It wasn’t in the quiet bliss that I had this realisation. I was on my couch for the fifth consecutive week, logged into a virtual conference, my phone pinging on my lap and Netflix humming in the background. And that’s when it hit me: the notion that after all this time, they were right.
They. “They” — the ones that leaders shunned for being too ‘entitled,’ too ‘lazy’ and far too addicted to technology to be productive. Yes, they. The same “they” that we mocked for their obsession with living in the moment and work-life balance at the start of their careers.
Raised as the “centre of their own universe’’, this 2.0 generation was born with different factory settings that admittedly bugged us, but little did we know they were wired differently for the greater good of all gens that came before them.
We called them ‘disrupters’. We called them ‘narcissists’. We called them …The Millennials. They were right, you know. About everything.
It was this cohort, born after Knight Rider but before Zoom™, that came to us with the answers, long before we realised that we needed any. Flashback to when Simon Sinek said the Millennial Generation was really only lobbying for ‘free food and bean bags.’ Everyone laughed. I laughed too.
But no one’s laughing now: as convenience junkies, their desire to share, to collaborate and co-create has transformed into a force of innovation in the way we now live, work and play. With their emotional settings set on ‘sensitive’, their drive for connectedness and community intact, Millennials were sent to us to remind us how important it is to feel; to feel for others who are marginalised; to feel for the environment; to feel for ourselves.
Essentially, Millennials were primed for a more flexible, meaningful and balanced world where they could integrate work, family, hobbies and side hustles … joyfully juggling all of it from their beanbag at home. We scorned this because our belief system was pre-set to thinking that being ‘flexible’ was a thing we had to work damn hard to earn, not a right handed to you at the beginning of your career.
Justifiably, they were angry about the world that they had inherited from previous generations and were unapologetic in their two-tier approach to change: 1.
Changing the House from within or 2. Burning it down. They are the torch bearers with a higher purpose to challenge the status quo of the world and our societies, to break down our many institutions that remain inefficient, corrupt and broken.
Millennials are now the emerging leaders in their respective organisations and businesses.
COVID-19 has been nature’s way of making space for this upcoming leadership to shine, while side-lining older generations as vulnerable. One would argue that the Millennials were ready for this ’new normal’, while the rest of us were too attached to the old world, with old ways, resisting the change.
It’s taken a global pandemic to teach us that we were wrong, about what they were right about all along.
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom™ says “Millennials grew up realising they could get the job done without having to go to the office — sooner or later this is going to be normal, because the world does not belong to us anymore.”
It belongs to them. Yes them. The Millennials, and the Centennials — the latter already proving to be the 3.0 version of their predecessors. If you notice the things that come naturally to the younger generations, it’s clear that their particular ‘settings’ are what’s required to thrive in this chaotic world. We need to adapt, quickly … or face irrelevance.
Because, say it with me — they were right.
Incidentally — The global bean bag market was valued at USD 3.3 billion in 2018 and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 4.0% in 2020. #Justsaying