Marty Snyder once commented on an old blog post of mine (for once I’m asking you to please click the link and read my words) with a quote from Honest Abe…
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to expect it.
It’s no wonder that “Generation Y” is so dubious about us older farts; GenY’s are at the age of true independence and most of us simply desire to warn them about what’s coming down the road. But our words of warning are frequently viewed as meddling because they’re at the crossroads of independence – why listen if you believe your experience is sufficient to clarify your intentions?
When we were children and our parents told us not to touch the flame on the stove, we touched the flame and it burned. I know I touched it and my parents yelled at me; it was very unpleasant.
Back then, spankings and belts were, dare I say, common. I remember hearing those feared words, “Wait until your father gets home” after I tossed an eff bomb in my Mom’s direction. I stewed for nearly three hours and when Dad came home, I saw them huddle up, glancing my way every few seconds with stern looks on their faces. The outlook appeared very grim.
Dad called me over and said, “Go upstairs and get a belt.” I’m sure my lower lip was quivering but I turned and headed upstairs.
I came back with a very thin belt. Dad said, “Too small…go back a get a wider belt.” More quivering…
This took place three more times – “not wide enough” and me trudging upstairs to his closet. I later discovered that they were muffling laughs as I tried to “reason” my way out of a spanking or at the very least outsmart them.
In the end, I received a few swats with the BIG belt but they didn’t really hurt. I also received hugs and kisses and the words, “We’re doing this for your own good.” Sure.
What taught me a lesson was the agony of learning. But here I am at 51 getting my first real taste at parenting having stepped into a relationship that requires me to be more than a buddy. How do you folks do it on a regular basis? As I’m discovering now, teaching a lesson isn’t easy but taking shortcuts surely isn’t the way to do it. For their own good…
My parents viewed events like this as learning experiences – they wanted to prevent me from reaching out into the fire but they had a longer term belief that the lessons outweighed the pain and suffering. They let me fail…although I never truly appreciated being “burned.”
If we allow ourselves to see the true reason for parental or generational inderdictions, perhaps we’ll see that these come from a place of love and not control. The younger element of the #jobhuntchat generation believes they’re ready to be CEOs – and while a few might be – most shouldn’t even be spelling CEO for a few years. There is so much to learn about the financial, operational, and organizational realms of business and crowdsourcing alone won’t help you compress 10 years of business experience into a six month learning session.
What impresses me about Corn, Guru, ImSo, and Mizlee is that they respect those who came before them and they listen to learn. That’s not to say that they probably believe they know better than others young and old – I know I sure did – but they’re not so caught up in their media-annointed uniqueness of Y that they simply block out words of advice and counsel from people like me.
And to be completely candid, I’m in awe of what they’ve already accomplished. How I wish the older generation to me took the time to reach out and offer advice and counsel as we do now!
Agony is part of growing and there aren’t any ways to sidestep its impact. Listening is learning; trudging ahead with blinders on to others than oneself or one’s generation is not.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Y, X or BB, we’re all part of Generation Learning – GenL – until we die.
Now get over yourself…
Despite the fact that you are a 50something, you can write for any generation.
Your belt story reminds me of a similar incident but with a different outcome. I was, I think 16 (which is, as we all know, roughly 24 months before one knows everything) and I had something that got my father so ticked off that he pulled out his belt and took a roundhouse swing. What he didn’t take into account was the fact that while I might have done something stupid, there was nothing wrong with my reflexes.
He missed and caught one of my brothers flush in the face.
I don’t remember what happened after that as I was no longer in the room.
I think it has more to do with my general philosophy that when you act your age you’re dead…
Stevie – You have a knack for tying in some of the most interesting stories from your childhood into a post. I enjoy them.
Ok, so since my entry into Social Media, I’ve made it known that I’m not sure I see a difference in generations. Maybe the little differences that we do have, are ignited through social media. Before joining this crazy online world, I barely heard a peep from generational enthusiasts. This is all new to me…
With that said, my ears are open for anyone who wants to chat, and I’ll pick and choose the people that gain multiple chats. You, and a list of others have been more than helpful to me, and I am JUST starting to realize how very much I can learn from you.
My Gen Y partners would be ignorant to not do the same. Understanding business and it’s workings is not just a now thing. To be successful in business, you must understand how it has ran for years and years. If history repeats itself, so will the problems that Boomers have faced in business, and if Gen Y does not understand the problems that have already faced Boomers, then those problems will surely face Gen Y at some point in time.
Generation Learning. Social media pulls us all together, it does not space us further apart. We walk together, we battle together, and we learn together.
I like your thoughts my man. However I have seen the generational issue first hand. More so I noticed it as I was promoted ahead of my peers and as a result entered this no man’s land where I couldn’t relate to my colleagues (all of whom were 35+ and likely married with children). Nor could I relate to my friends at the company where were associates, when I was a VP. Now while our not overly progressive HR group would not identify this as a generational issue, it certainly is one. However applying some of the above GenL knowledge and my own skill set I made it work. I related to my colleagues on a less-than-personal level by talking about sports affiliations, recreational activities, etc. This worked well enough but left me slightly unfulfilled. As far as my peer group, I just learned the most valuable lesson in business… Leave it at the office. Once my friends and I left the office, business wasn’t something we discussed… so that helped too.
You did say something in your remarks though which got my mind working. While I completely agree that those who don’t learn their history are doomed to repeat it… is that true for business? I mean think about it. On a macro-level every boom and bust is the same, but on a micro-level is there one business that has not changed fundamentally and completely from its old roots? I mean in terms of business model, operations, financial management… I would argue that everyone of those things has changed. And in a business environment where the only constant is change, what matter does “history” make? Obviously we keep repeating those boom-bust cycles under every previous generation… so maybe if we place less value on the past, we can better focus on the future? Just some thoughts…
I realize that I hear the differences but I don’t see them.
Steve – Fantastic post. I had a few tears building up, but in all honesty I think you are dead on with this. I can’t stay to long because I have day care duty tonight, but your points are perfect.
Learning is key to anyone’s success. I consistency search out mentor programs and put myself in the middle of success. I’ve got some years to go myself, but I like to think that I bring some relevance to conversations.
The internet is a quirky place for sure. Recruitment is even more quirky. The end result is that in order to grow you need to look outside the box and outside of your own personal space. Case in point and why I wanted to you to talk to my team. A different voice with a different approach goes a long way.
I appreciate the mention and look forward to next time.
This is a really great post, Steve. I completely agree that learning – and our commitment to it – is one of handful of important human qualities that bridge together *everyone*.
There are generational differences, sure as there are differences in eyes, height, and weight. I don’t say this negatively or to countermand the content of the post. However, the environment (and by extension, the events) we grow up in do play a hand in shaping who we are and our world view.
In the end, it’s about choice. We can focus on our differences and use them as walls to keep ourselves isolated. Or, we can use them as bridges to learn more about each other. I’ll follow Steve and go with the latter.
Jon believes we’re really different but I say we’re so much more alike.
Why the need to maximize the “differences” and minimize all we have in common?
I like this post a lot. I think there is a lot of positive thought in regards to where the older generation is coming from when they attempt to “advise and counsel” the younger generation of folks (such as myself).
However, I pose to you a question… Why is it that as parents (and you older lot were our parents) you wanted us to feel like we could take on the world, you valued us for being special, and even gave us all trophies, but now that we entering the work force, you (universal usage) want to take that away and break down all that we were raised to believe??
I ask because I am interested in the response. I see a lot of Boomers and early x-ers saying a lot of stereotypical things about Gen Y/Millennials, but to me if we were raised to believe that way by your co-workers and your peer group then why now in the work place is that a source of resistance and frustration, when all along until now it was a source of pride and admiration?
Overall I love the post. I am a “cusper” millennial which means I learned many of the same life lessons you did and understand the value so I relate to what you are saying. It also means I get dumb founded by the “young millennials” who don’t get a lot of things, but I don’t hold it against them. I will re-post your link on my FB page and on my blog.
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