I read an article on linked In the other day which I wanted to share with you.
The article was written by Elizabeth McLeod, daughter of bestselling author Lisa McLeod.
Elizabeth wrote the article as an open letter to management. In her letter Elizabeth addresses the very popular topic of Millennial’s in the workplace.
I am not exactly sure why the Millennial generation seems to have receives so much attention (much of it negative), but it seems you cannot open LinkedIn without seeing at least one article on Millennial’s in the workplace.
In her letter, Elizabeth talks about how disappointed she’s been anytime she encounters low-performing life-long employees who persist inside large organizations.
She addresses how companies tend to focus almost exclusively on profits instead of focusing on the purpose of their work.
Elizabeth talks about how a company’s cultures can be thin and contrived offering little more than free lunches and game rooms rather than being a deeply ingrained way of working.
Finally Elizabeth’s article mentions the superficial relationships that many corporate leaders seem to have with employees.
As I read Elizabeth’s article, I was struck by two thoughts.
First I thought about how little has changed since I first joined the workforce.
I can remember having all of the same realizations and how disillusioned I felt when I first entered corporate America.
To be honest, there are times even now when I feel the same way.
My point in sharing this observation is not to diminish or dismiss Elizabeth’s concerns, rather to share a kinship with her.
Despite the constant effort by many to differentiate or segregate the feelings and experiences of the Millennial generation, I find that many of the issues they struggle with are experiences shared by previous generations.
We too were once eager young people aspiring to great accomplishments. Unfortunately, we tend to assimilate into corporate culture and soon lose the drive and idealism that fueled our passions.
Priorities shift from career to family and the job you took with great aspiration and zeal soon becomes little more than a paycheck to support the demands of a growing family.
As we grow older, occasional fleeting moment of introspection may allow these feelings to resurface, but we quickly fall back into routines driven by deadlines and high demands.
So my first observation here is that Elizabeth is exactly right and that many organizations are sorely lacking in a number of ways. However, this is not a unique experience and many of us from older generations share in this experience.
So what can we do about this?
This bring me to the second thought I had while reading Elizabeth’s letter.
Even if Elizabeth and I (as representatives of our respective generations) banded together in solidarity, I don’t think we can change the way the world works.
The reality is the vast majority of us cannot be top performers and many will get mired in day to day repetitive cycles of non-value work.
Companies are in business strictly to make money.
Within most large Companies, corporate culture has become thin and superficial.
And, we may never experience a close personal relationship with the guy that signs the checks.
These are facts of life that may never change, so to avoid being dragged down, my advice is to shift your focus away from these external factors and focus internally.
For me, personal initiatives like this blog, give me creative outlets where I can be in complete control. Here, I can address issues and topics that matter to me. I can share insights I have learned. I can highlight great things I have accomplished, and I get a personal sense of satisfaction anytime someone tells me that something I wrote helped them.
Besides this blog, I set personal professional goals that keep me focused and engaged. I nurture strong professional relationships with top performers and maintain a ritual of continuing education and learning.
There are many factors in life that are outside of our control. If we allow them, these factors can bring us down, make us sad or make us angry.
Sustained happiness and satisfaction can be achieved only from within. It took me many years to come to this realization.
I’m happy that Elizabeth has such drive and motivation. I’m glad she can see that the world around her is lacking. These observations may one day be the catalyst for a new and innovative Company filled with high performers doing deep meaningful work in an environment rooted in a rich culture with deep meaningful relationships.
Until then, I hope she finds creative outlets to keep her drive and ambition alive. I also hope one day we can all move away from a dialogue of division and segregation. Our trend towards labeling and differentiation (across generations, race, and culture) lead us to believe we are alone in our experiences.
The truth is that we are all one people with shared common experiences.
If we can keep that perspective, I’m certain that we could learn from each other and even if the world never meets our expectations, a strong commitment to personal growth can fuel a fresh positive outlook.
What about you? Do you find your workplace to be lacking? What would you change if you could? How do you stay motivated? Tell me your stories.
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