Lazy and entitled are two of the most famous millennial accusations. Unfortunately there is some truth to the labels. So how did this happen? Let’s dissect this creature to get a better idea.
1. Parents of millennials, or rather their parenting style, has effected how millennials see themselves and how the world works. Boomers grew up with a sort of “one-size-fits-all” parenting style. They were expected to conform to society in the form of getting a job, and probably getting married and having kids. They grew to resent this burden of culture and decided to raise their kids differently. Boomers had a more personalized approach to parenting their millennial children. They wanted them to follow their dreams, not to be burdened by cultural expectations. This idea morphed into more extreme versions like over-parenting, and the dreaded “helicopter parent.”
This created a mindset in millennials that the world will bend to their aspirations, and is most evident in the workplace. They expect their environment to fit their personal needs. They want more vacation time, less rigid workplace protocol, and sometimes treat their bosses more like professors who are investing in them, rather than the one giving them a paycheck. The mistake millennials make is that they approach the workplace thinking that they set the terms. They want to know how their work environment is going to benefit them, rather figuring out how they can best benefit their workplace.
2. Another culprit is pop culture influences depicted in the media. As much as cultural critics love to blame “helicopter parents” for their entitlement, it’s not that simple. The goal in raising millennials was to empower them as individuals. While this parenting approach can breed self-absorption, there’s more to the story.
Did you see this Bud Light commercial? The slacker mayor of Whatever town? He’s awesome right? Ruling the town without so much as breaking a sweat. His whimsy, and natural awesomeness are enough in keeping the town running well. He never worked in a cubicle, or so much as ever turned in a resume. He was meant for great things. It is his destiny. Who wouldn’t want to be that guy?
The problem is he doesn’t actually exist. I’m not criticizing the commercial (it’s funny) but something inside me made me cringe when I saw it, because some millennials deep down don’t get the joke. They think it’s serious. It reinforces the message that many already believe: you get ahead in life by just being you. That’s it. No work ethic, talent or effort required. A culture that says work is for losers, and praises the guy who shunned the corporate ladder, became uber-successful completely on his own merit sends confusing messages to young adults. When they enter the workforce, and refuse to do work that’s “below them” it’s because everything in the culture they grew up in is telling them to not be “that guy.” You know, the boring guy who had to work in a cubicle, and do un-awesome things. Shudder.
I know, I can feel older generations shaking their heads in disbelief. “Get over it!” you’re thinking, but don’t underestimate how this delusion has shaped millennials world view (not to mention work ethic). You are right though at some point, like everyone, millennials need to have a wake up call and grow up. If you run into a young adult in the workplace who insists on staying clueless, I advise to just say good luck, and good bye. If they act like they already have it all figured out, let them go ahead and test that theory.
3. Millennial delusion can be changed into optimism. Wait, you may be asking yourself, aren’t you a fan and advocate of millennials? Yes. So I thought it would be fair to add this last piece of the picture. Sometimes what is deemed as millennial entitlement is actually optimism. As much as their upbringing and cultural influences have stunted their growth in some cases, it’s an unintentional result of delusion rather than entitlement.
But a generation that’s free from the cultural pressures of the past, and understand that life is a process is able to act on their dreams. When millennials become self-aware of their entitlement, and understand the need for patience, and hard work, they can become quite driven to accomplish their dreams. It’s true millennials think “they can do better.” But with so many problems facing this country, that attitude isn’t so bad if applied correctly.
Help millennials (ones with a good attitude) put into practice this “do-better” mentality and you might be pleasantly surprised. These delusional, lazy narcissists might transform into focused and driven assets before your eyes.