The Olympics are only one week away! I’m filled with both excitement and fatigue as we have endured months of media coverage leading up to the start of the Winter Olympic Games.
Did you know that the average age of the 2014 Winter Olympic athlete is 24?
And 26 is the average age of the 230 member US Olympic team. And despite the many months of coverage, no one has mentioned the fact that the majority of these athletes are Millennials. Given the level of attention your generation receives in the media, I find this to be a blatant omission.
Why would they do that?
Because Olympic athletes don’t fit the dismal Millennial profile that has be propagated. Millennial bashing has become the status quo by journalists, educators, and corporate executives. This has so become the norm that even the articles that set out to do good, seem to fail and contribute to the negative stereotyping of Millennials.
The media spent the better part of 2012 and 2013 trying to convince you and your predecessors that you are lazy and entitled, and so coddled by your helicopter parents that you expect a trophy at every turn.
Earlier this year, Alison Hermon put together a collection of 2013’s Worst Writing About Millennials on Flavorwire. She wrote:
The past 12 months saw more ill-founded, hysterical, condescending, and generally awful writing than ever about what so-called “millennials” are up to and why it’s ruining the country.
Unfortunately, I read my fare share of these articles. Each depicts a generation of superficial narcissists so attached to their electronic devises that they are void of the necessary social skills to function in society.
This is a radically unfair and extremely biased stereotyping of 41% of the US population.
Don’t believe the hype!
Your generation is different, as each generation has been different than its predecessor. But different doesn’t mean you’re bad.
I repeat: Differences are not bad.
Leaders and organizations must learn to embrace and leverage difference, and not use it to create division and resentment.
Effective and sustainable organizations have the ability integrate difference as a reality of their organizational landscape. Generational differences aren’t the only type of diversity facing today’s workplace, others include, but are certainly not limited to gender, race, culture, ability, sexual orientation, and religion.
In my work as an OD Consultant, I’ve helped leaders and organizations increase their ability to negotiate and navigate differences.
But clearly there is still a lot of work to be done.
Millennials, I know you want more and expect more. It is the call for every new generation to expect and want more than those who came before them. Without the hopes and dreams for a greater and better future, we may not have invented the automobile, or dared to fly, or send man to the moon.
Your generation is doing great things!
Just last week 30 year old Ranger Cory Remsburg attended the President’s State of the Union Address where he was honored for his unbelievable courage and sacrifice.
Did you know the average age of active duty soldiers is 29 for the Army and Navy, 25 for the Marine Corps, and 30 for the Air Force and Coast Guard?
Serving our country as an Olympic athlete or US service member requires unparallel levels of commitment, sacrifice, dedication, diligence, commitment, courage, bravery, and strength of character.
These characteristics are not unique to Millennials; however, we cannot ignore that your generation continues to participate in these time honored traditions of service and may even perform at levels that exceed former generations.
And while not all Millennials are meant to be Olympians or soldiers, we can be certain that the majority of Millennials are having a positive impact on society, the economy, and the world as learners, educators, activists, start-up entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators, CEOs, artists, philanthropists, and so much more.
Want proof? See the Forbes 30 under 30 Who Are Changing the World or any of their many 30 Under 30 lists featuring Millennials making a difference in various industries from Finance to Art and Design.
Fun Fact: The average age of the 2014 Super Bowl Championship Seattle Seahawks is 26.4 years old.
So may be you’re not an Olympic or professional athlete, soldier, or even a CEO (or maybe you are), what matters is that you have what it takes to carve out your own path of greatness and leave the world a better place.
When everyday people make extraordinary choices, they live exceptional lives.
More to help you understand generational differences, manage difference, and believe in yourself: