I spend a lot of time with Millennials at home, work, and in the community. I teach hundreds of them as an adjunct professor at Ft. Valley State University. I pastor many Millennials at my church. Some have become very close spiritual sons and daughters. They affectionately call me “Pops”. I love it. I mentor several millennial young men who pastor churches in our area. My wife and I have raised two daughters, ages 23 and 21, and our 17 year old son graduates high school spring 2015. Thank you, Jesus! I see Millennials everywhere I go. Here, Millennials. There, Millennials. Everywhere, Millennials, Millennials.
They’re oftentimes criticized for having a “cray cray” (crazy-lol) sense of entitlement, being overly confident, and lazy. But, they bring some interesting expectations to the workplace and many organizations are adapting in order to meet them. After all, Millennials are going to make up 75% of the American workforce by 2025. Workplaces today are more diverse than ever when it comes to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age and along with it comes interesting challenges. We can all benefit from this master mix if we learn from one another. Here are five lessons for success I constantly teach these up and coming leaders:
1. Pay attention to detail
My 12+ years in the U.S. Marines taught me the importance of paying attention to detail. I pass that on to the next generation every chance I get. Whether at home, school, or work the little things matter. I do what I can to help them slow down, focus, and DELIVER!
2. Make time for being mentored
Some of us may have been blessed to have one mentor who helped us with our careers. Times have changed. Millennials may need several to help them set and reach their goals.
3. Character counts…a lot!
Competence can take you far, but it is not enough to keep you from falling off the ladder of success. Too many leaders fall off the ladder due to inexcusable character flaws. Never let your competence write checks your character cannot cash.
4. Keep learning…no matter what
I share the importance of continual learning. I advise young people to:
- Never become too busy to read great books, listen to informative podcasts, or attend empowering seminars and conferences
- Never become so good at what you do where you stop learning how you can get even better
- Never become so knowledgeable that you lose your curiosity and stop asking questions. Be an inquisitive leader.
- Never become so discouraged by bad experiences that you don’t learn from them. Ask the tough questions, get straight answers, and keep it moving.
- Never become so awesome that you stop becoming. In my book, Are There Any ?s, I devote one chapter to the question, “Who Am I Becoming?” to challenge the reader to keep growing, keep learning, & keep climbing!
5. Dreams can come true
I grew up imagining what my life would be like when I became an adult and the Lord has blessed it to turn out better than I envisioned. Colin Powell said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” I must add one thing to Gen. Powell’s list: God’s divine favor. He opens doors and makes ways for sweat, determination, and hard work to pay off. I still dream about my future and I encourage the Millennials in my life to dream and do their part to make it a reality.
My relationships with the next generation are not one-sided. Just as I teach them lessons I’m learning some from them as well. In fact, I think I’m learning more from them than I’m teaching them. I’m learning how to:
- Grow with them – They keep me teachable
- Connect with them – They make me more relational as I get older and gain more influence
- Be firm, but fair with them- They help me manage authority with integrity
- Have fun with them – All work and no play make Dave a very dull man
- Correct them without crushing them – They help me choose my words carefully
- Love them-even when it’s hard – They help me love like Christ
- Be there for them! – They help me remember and repay those who were there for me when I was their age
May your relationships with the Millennials in your life serve as an exchange of strength and inspiration. Be encouraged & enjoy the journey!