The millennial generation (defined as people born in the years ranging from mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s) is characterized as a group of young adults whom’s culture has shaped society as we know it. Depending on who you ask, millennials may be the key to our future, or its demise. One thing commonly believed concerning the generation is its impact on the next to come. The polarizing opinions surrounding this age group is as popular as the baby boomers; (born early to mid 1940’s to mid 1960’s) and society is transforming as the millennial cohort enters parenthood and middle age. Question is– How do millennials impact society and what makes them different from other generations?

In an interview with Inside Quest, idealist Simon Sinek talks about millennials in the workplace and their correlation with leadership. (See link at the conclusion of the article) Mentioned in the discussion are four factors that affect the generation’s happiness: their parents, the age of technology, impatience and environment. As societal byproducts of these factors, it is inevitable that leaders from this age group are emerging, and there is no lack of ambition for us to do so. Though these four factors may be an imminent influence on the millennial effect, the generation has expressed its desire to be innovative and impactful. As millenials on a mission we must ask ourselves, What does it take to balance our inherited challenges with our desires to lead, inspire and provoke change? This article talks about the fruits of labor from this “Millennial Marriage” between our culture’s challenges and our passions in the workplace.

Challenge 1: Subjects to our Parents’ Strategies

Simon Sinek spoke of a millennial generation whom’s parents repeatedly told them they were “special”, and that they could have what they want (despite not earning it). He also questioned the philosophy of participatory rewards for competition- which rewarded all children even if they finished last. Sinek explained that many parents of millennials influenced children’s high marks in education, simply just by pressuring the administration. He then suggested that these parenting methods prepared the generation for a shattered self-image, as they were sent into the corporate world where– they do not get “special treatment,” they can’t always “have what they want,” their parents can’t “influence a promotion,” and they do not get rewarded for “minimal participation.” Millennials in the workplace have been reported by other generations to be “entitled,” which can partially be attributed to the lack of preparation for life as an adult. Perhaps our different youth experience led us to see things differently; ask difficult questions the others didn’t and ultimately give us courage to change the world in ways that those before us never fathomed.

Challenge 2: Age of Technology: Filters vs Feelings

Today’s society is excessively persuaded by social media, so much that our engagement influences our everyday attitudes and personal interactions. Sinek theorizes that we overlook the body’s release of chemicals involved with social media participation, particularly dopamine. Dopamine is said to be released in the brain when one experiences pleasure and functions in developing people’s emotional response. Studies show that high levels of dopamine are released during social media activity. This suggests a direct correlation between followers, likes and comments to emotional satisfaction. Sinek points out that dopamine release is also associated with addictive behaviors such as smoking, drinking and gambling. He believes that as a result of living with filters and coping with stress via social media that we develop a failing method of problem-solving. A large part of our generation portrays their lives through “filters” or facades to our social media audiences when their realities are not as enchanting as they’re perceived. These false looks can distract and impede us when fulfilling our purpose and thriving in our work. Though social media can be a tool for our entrepreneurship and thriving businesses, we must be careful not to get addicted to likes, follows and social media acceptance; but instead stay true to our passions and desired results.

Challenge 3: The lost Pillar of Patience

Millennials live in a time when we want it now. No matter the goal, we want it as soon as possible without waiting or process. Need to order something? Amazon Prime. Need to pay for something and don’t have your credit card? Pick an app! No time set aside for dating or meeting someone? Tender says to swipe right. Resulting from a combination of our first two challenges is the lost art of patience. Some of the most successful companies and brands came to flourish because of their ability to grow with time. What would Facebook be if its creators gave in to its first set of investors? The difference between a dilettante and a master creator is often marked by the one who sees the importance of the journey. As millennials we expect results so fast due to enhanced technology and increased access that we forget the best achievements are worth building. If our goals are within anyone’s reach have we diminished the value of “the hands of time?” The milestones and accolades that we have yet to meet are most likely down the rivers and streams that others have not coursed. In order to create our vision it is important for us to see the entire picture.

Challenge 4: Outside Environment

According to Simon Sinek when answering the “Millennial Question” the last factor that stifles the generation is interacting with the surrounding environment–or the rest of society. In the business world working with other millennials with similar backgrounds and understanding may come easy; however we are not the sole personae on the corporate scene. As the creatives of our time we operate more effectively by coming together with great minds of the past and future generations as well. In order to mesh well with other generations we have to grow beyond any restraints our environment has created. The truth is– millennials may not always get what we want, but we can use our talents to get it. As millennials we may not have been born to be more special than everyone else, but we do have more resources and tools to discover our purpose. We may have to put down social media at times and look to our predecessors, friends and colleagues for improvement; and no– we may not build Rome in a day or create a booming business/brand on the first try. As the thriving young professionals millennials see themselves to be, it is our duty to combine our every potential with society’s foundation to formulate a positive influence.


Simon Sinek Interview with Inside Quest:

– LaMonte Thomas