18 May 2022

Schizophrenia Of Significance

In order to live a meaningful life, Millennials feel the need to accomplish something significant. It needs to matter, not just to them, but to others around them; to their personal collection of stakeholders.

“I want to do something deep and meaningful with my life… right now!!”
In order to live a meaningful life, Millennials feel the need to accomplish something significant. It needs to matter, not just to them, but to others around them; to their personal collection of stakeholders. This drive is not new to their generation. It’s a human psychological compulsion and it sits on the Self-Esteem tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Humans feel a need in their lives to make a unique and significant contribution to the world.

But over the years, cultural developments in variety, immediacy, and convenience have become the enemies of psychological significance in Millennials.

Millennials know that in order for a contribution to be meaningful, it requires a remarkable level of excellence, and achieving excellence requires a considerable investment of TIME. Malcolm Gladwell proposed that to become an outlier, talent and opportunity needs to exist alongside 10,000 hours of practice. But ask a Millennial what activity they would be willing to dedicate 10,000 hours of their life to, and you’re likely to see a kind of bewildered stare that’s commonly reserved for people who are speaking an entirely foreign language. They might even tell you that they’re going to spend 10,000 hours becoming the “best me that I can be. I’m investing 10,000 hours in just being ME.”

However, to be amazing at piano playing, cooking, art, or any professional sport, it takes 10,000 hours of disciplined practice. It’s the same for relationships, career paths, hobbies, parenting, job roles, communication styles, EQ, management, design, Tableau, auditing, or ANY other collection of disciplines. To be an excellent manager, you will need 10,000 hours of practice in management, plus talent, plus an opportunity. It’s this demand of time contradicts what every piece of media has been teaching Millennials since the day they were born. Millennials have been taught that they’re omni-talented, and that every opportunity is available to them. But has anyone taught them about the requirement of time? Are they prepared for the TEN THOUSAND hours that it will take to become significantly excellent?

When I was a kid, I was taught and led to believe that I could become our nation’s President, a corporate CEO, or even a television actor. On the other hand, my son has been raised in a world where Donald Trump has made all of these things true, all at once. If Donald Trump can do it, then why can’t he? When I was young my parents taught me that I could be anything, but my son has been taught that he can be everything.

I side with thought leader Simon Sinek that it’s not Millennials’ fault that they have this mismatch of values. They were raised that way: Raised to pursue many experiences but all at the expense of dedication to excellence in one discipline. Raised to expect that what they want will be delivered in just 24 hours or less. Raised to value the path of least resistance to whatever they want, most of which can be arranged via their mobile phones now. They have food, accommodation, a new fridge, a new relationship, an MBA all now, literally, in the palm of their hands. Their expectation of the world is that they will have everything, now, easily. But is it significant to do so? Will it satisfy them psychologically?

If you can negotiate the closing terms of a first date before risking the cost of an Uber to the restaurant, what are the chances it’s going to be a significant relationship? Is it significant to finish a 4-year degree in only 9 months, part-time, with an added convenience of a research assistant ghostwriting your papers for you?

Parents, employees and mentors, let’s now teach Millennials the three things need in order to achieve the significance that they crave. The three things that they have been programmed to avoid: which is dedication, effort, and time.

Article by: Dr. Corrie Block
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