We want to run with you.
The stereotype generation after generation is that the younger has a distrust and disdain for the efforts and the mistakes of the older. That the older has caused all the problems society faces and so it is the job of the younger to turn away from precedent and tradition and wisdom and create new things. Not only do I believe this is problematic and unsustainable, but also a misconception when it comes to Millennials.
Millennials represent a striking about-face from previous generations in that we crave and thrive on genuine, interpersonal relationship and mentorship with those older and wiser than ourselves. Perhaps it stems from our "everyone a winner" upbringing, where our parents presented us shiny trophies for ninth place in a swim meet as a sixth-grader, or we were told from a young age that we were special and unique and there was a specific destiny out there just for us. Call it insecurity, but Millennials do best within caring relationships that are validating and nurturing. As much as we talk about individualism and authenticity, we're also incredibly collaborative and invest deeply in esprit de corps. We need to know we're on the right track and are desperately afraid of making mistakes.
While this highlights the sensitive, maybe insecure part of the Millennial generation, let's pivot to what I think is the biggest reason we need working, intergenerational relationships: we have this gnawing gut feeling that the trajectory to impact the world in big ways has never been shorter and the tools to do it never better.
And we would rather learn from those who have experience than waste time trying to figure it out on our own.
We call it "hacking." While hacking used to be something smart people did on the computer, it's been applied conceptually to everything from learning languages to creating work-life balance to, yes, developing our leadership and skills.
Top-flight young CEOs coming out of the tech boom, for example, are again showing this generation the value of creating high-level working connections with older and wiser managers and leaders. We're figuring out that by sitting down with the Buffett's and Sandberg's and Job's of the world that we can learn by our thirties a lot of what we need to, to achieve what would otherwise take until much older. And that's exciting to us.
When I get to sit down with older leaders, or intergenerational groups, this is now my message:
Don't leave us alone or feel like you have to leave. Help us hack leadership and maturity and change agency. Don't worry about having to be relevant or flashy or up on the latest tech or lingo. Just be you, and be with us. Hang out with us in the coffee shops, text us now and again, push us to talk on the phone with you. Share life with us, teach us what not to do, advise us as caretakers of the future. Devise solutions with us, so we can pair the lessons of the past with the opportunity of the future. Show us the way until your journey is finished.
Stop giving us the baton. Run with us.