Millennials: The Whole World Is in Their Capable Hands

Happy Teenage GirlI’ve been awakened by my experience and observation of the unique, fresh, and lively hope that young people in the so-called millennial generation—also known as Generation Y—offer the world. They are the largest, most educated, best connected, and most diverse generational cohort in history, and they possess creative power that can and will reshape the world as we know it.

Paradoxically, many millennials I work with are not fully aware of their potential as individuals and as a generation. They need acknowledgment and support in developing the skills and qualities that will prepare them to have the impact they are here to make. Without the benefit of clear goals and the ability to direct their attention accordingly, millennials can get sidetracked and distracted by the multiplicity of stimuli and distractions. There exist an ever-growing number of cutting-edge human technologies designed (but not always used) to provide millennials with the capacities they need to be a force for positive change.

While there’s no “official” age range for the millennial generation, I experience this cohort as 18- to 35-year-olds. My experience informs me that people in this cohort are transcending the linear definition of the label they’ve been given. Over the next decade, they will account for 75% of the American workforce. They are the largest energy collective ever, and the first generation to know, by and large, they are living in a world that is evolutionarily dysfunctional. At the same time, they are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and more open to change than previous generations.

Most of these young adults demand and expect a stimulating work environment with plenty of opportunities for creativity, self-expression, and a great deal of personal freedom in self-directed work. They have a growing ability to discern where and how to contribute their gifts, yet they are distrustful of traditional institutions. At the same time, they are more daring and optimistic about the future than older adults.

Perhaps more than any other generation, they are coming up against age-old paradigms of scarcity, separation, and strife. They have been challenged to find new resources and demonstrate resilience in responding to the constraints placed upon them.

As I see it, each of us has the opportunity and responsibility to participate in reimagining and reshaping the world we live in by empowering the young adults coming of age in this decade. My own long-winding path as a mental health practitioner has led me to realize the importance of offering millennials the support and acknowledgement they need. They will be the ones to bring a more inclusive, equitable, and generative future to fruition. Personally and professionally, engaging them with new and emerging human collaborative technologies has been a wonderful gift and source of hope.

I’ve witnessed millennials bring tremendous energy to progressive social change and conscious evolution. This makes catalyzing intergenerational collaboration and co-creation an imperative of great significance. They are discovering their “generational calling” and will engage new human technologies for deep transformation and graceful forward movement, and they are determined to learn and have fun in the process.

New human technologies are endeavoring to support this generation in strengthening and cultivating:

  • The emotional intelligence and courage needed to embark upon and follow an authentic, self-directed path in life.
  • The ability to quickly shift attention and respond to rapidly changing circumstances creatively and constructively.
  • The capacity to maintain focus, resist distraction, and direct primary attention to one thing at a time.
  • The qualities required to engage in a process of deep reflection and creative problem-solving.
  • The attributes and skills characteristic of generative entrepreneurs and visionaries.
  • The capacity to collaborate in online and offline environments with peers as well as across generations.
  • The ability to hold, resolve, and transform the many contradictions they embody as a generation and encounter in the world around them.

Another strength these young adults have to draw upon is the unique attributes they have developed by growing up in an interconnected world. They use their ability to multitask with efficiency and precision in order to achieve the professional outcomes that are important to them. They work and learn in a respectfully collaborative manner by tapping into collective intelligence and prefer to self-organize in support of social causes rather than joining established organizations. They expect and demand speed, trust, and transparency. They are evolving many other capacities at a rate unprecedented in the history of our species. At the same time, many of them feel frustrated and disempowered by the physical and emotional realities they face on a daily basis.

I firmly believe that by making skillful use of the new human technology tools, millennials can bring about worthy change. An example has emerged from Otto Scharmer’s MIT research and invigorating, generative workshops and book, Leading from the Emerging Future, which inspired the focalizing and dynamic linking technologies. The latter two were conceived and shaped with Otto’s help and important new languaging. Excitingly, there are other, similar technologies organically emerging as I write this.

All of us will benefit from the collective energy and creativity millennials can access when given the opportunity to engage deeply and authentically in the process of their evolution. It is our role as therapists and elders to ensure that they have the support they need in taking full ownership of their unique attributes and skills and using those qualities in taking action toward shaping a better future. Our species and our planet will be in a much better place if we can shape-shift the growth and development of this profound cultural energy.

References:

  1. Matchar, Emily. (2012). How those spoiled millennials will make the workplace better for everyone. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-those-spoiled-millennials-will-make-the-workplace-better-for-everyone/2012/08/16/814af692-d5d8-11e1-a0cc-8954acd5f90c_story.html
  2. Pew Research Center. (2010). Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/millennials-confident-connected-open-to-change.pdf
  3. Pew Social Trends. (2014). Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/03/07/millennials-in-adulthood/

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Michael Picucci, PhD, MAC, SEP, therapist in New York City, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • martonio

    martonio

    February 4th, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    You know why I don’t think that they feel they can live up their potential? Because I think that the older generations have spent a whole lot of time brow beating them and telling them just how much they will not ever do anything with their lives.

  • Dr. Michael Picucci

    Dr. Michael Picucci

    February 4th, 2015 at 11:42 AM

    That may be an unfortunate truth, Martonio. It is only now that these elements are coming together in a way that I can find myself educating on old-paradigm generations to the grand possibilities at hand. Maybe you can help transform this misconception. ‘Millenergy’, as one of my young colleagues phrased it, is something we all must be awakened to. It is a badly needed new phenomenon that we will greatly benefit from just by providing the awareness, support, and new tools and/or technologies to everyone. The world continues to change in quantum leaps, yet the evolution of consciousness is gradually awakening and, as Einstein said, “new problems cannot be solved with our old thinking.” Maybe you can us help spread the word.

  • Blakely

    Blakely

    February 4th, 2015 at 2:11 PM

    We all need to be reminded now and again that what we do is meaningful and that it makes a difference in a positive way in the world. I am sure that this generation has often heard that the best has already passed us by with the baby boomers so that kind of leads us to believe that anything that the rest of us are going to add will pale in comparison. I think that no matter the person it is important to see them for their own merits and not waste so much time always comparing them to someone or something else.

  • Jad

    Jad

    February 5th, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    I’m a millennial and proud of it. Sick of hearing older generations talk all of us down because of the behavior of a few of us. Thx for speaking out on this

  • Mills

    Mills

    February 5th, 2015 at 11:43 AM

    I guess that I am just as guilty of this as the next guy. I assume that everything that I read about this generation is true when actually it is probably just a few bad apples who are giving this crowd a bad rep. You see, it too many people start to say them same thing, whether it is true or not, then we all start to believe it, and I think that we can see the injustice that has been done to this age group just for that reason.
    I don’t think that everything that is said or implied is justifiable, and I think that we all need to take a step back and reanalyze with a good hard look just how we are choosing to see everyone.

  • Michael Picucci

    Michael Picucci

    February 6th, 2015 at 8:11 AM

    This has always been a generational divide, but never one like this one that is digitally a hundred-fold or more. Perhaps you and all similar feeling readers can join us at theinstitute.org to help turn the tide on these misconception, perhaps even turning them on their head, in a very good way.

  • Susanna

    Susanna

    February 8th, 2015 at 4:28 AM

    What excites me the most about working with this group of young people is that they are ALWAYS open to change. This is not a group of young adults with whom you will be working and they will be obstinate to any sort of change because this is the way it has always been done. I think that they are pretty open minded to new thoughts and ideas and they are eager to be a part of the change and not someone who tries to stand in the way of it. I am not of this generation, more of an Xer myself, and I have to say that there have been times that technology has moved so fast that it can be scary. But with this group now coming into their own, I have the perfect teachers. I hope that we can all allow that they can be that for us!

  • Dr. Michael Picucci

    Dr. Michael Picucci

    February 9th, 2015 at 4:51 AM

    Yes, Susana, this generation is ‘ALWAYS open to change.’ So long as that change feels authentic, real and they feel a sense of support. The innate grasp of technology make them teachers for all of us, even if we just marvel at what they can do with their good intentions, tech stuff and the support of their elders. We do have a lovely learning responsibility to respect and co-create with them, as asked. They live in a world of tomorrow. As Kahilil Gibran wrote in his poem on The Children, “their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which we cannot visit, not even in our dreams.” Let us be the bow that holds steady as they shoot like arrows in a world yet to be known, and let us do so with mindfulness and openness. This way the arrow that flies can love the bow that supported their journey.

  • Lib

    Lib

    February 9th, 2015 at 10:24 AM

    I am being brutally honest when I say that I am not sure that I have quite as much faith in this generation as I have in others. I have no real sense in a work ethic in the millenials, no real understanding that they care about much of anything beyond what is going on in their own little world. I work with this age group, I am around them everyday so I don’t think that I am being off base here, I just get a real sense of apathy from the majority of them in this age category and that is honestly the last thing that we need more of at this point.

  • Dr. Michael Picucci

    Dr. Michael Picucci

    February 9th, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    In the same vane of honesty, my experience with younger folks that had the kind of respect and guidance the article suggests is very different. Yes, they are apathetic about what older generations think they should be doing to a degree. What they see is a world that makes very little sense to them (or me, if I didn’t understand random evolution) or why they would want a place in this mess. Most relationships, work and government situations look and feel more like failures (or, like something’s gone awry).

    They desire newness which only they can find, hopefully with our support and realization that they are being prepared for a very different world. One we could have never imagined. I respect your perception, and they carry the weight of it. I admire the ones I know, as they don’t let our so-called norms and expectations bog them down in their pursuit of happiness and contentment.

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