A couple weeks ago I kept going back and forth in my head about whether I should give a slightly younger but fellow Millennial (the age range of 18 to 35 is so unhelpful!) co-worker a piece of constructive criticism.
I waffled a little bit on the matter because, well because two main things: A) when you care about someone you don’t want to jeopardize the relationship by telling them something hard and; B) for fear that you might come across as judgmental or condemning.
And I mention this not to digress, but to elucidate one of THEE MOST vital leadership lessons I’ve experienced this year, or any year really… and its this:
If you love and care for someone, you call them to something higher.
Okay, that was a bonus… back to the issue…
So basically this co-worker of mine got into a debate with some fellow staff at an “all-staff” meeting. The issue eventually came to consensus, but there was a moment there where he was literally pleading with the group, “how can I be wrong?! Surely, at the very least, the both of us (as there was one other person’s actions being debated) are wrong and I think we all can at least acknowledge that!”
Though my friend and coworker was totally validated in his view of the situation, what I sought to encourage him on was a point about perception…
You may have heard the oft-quoted phrase, ‘perception is reality’… I both love and hate this claim. I love it because I see the truth in it and I often enjoy deploying that truth. I hate it because it tends to completely obliterate objectivity at the expense of ‘well it’s how I saw it!’
What happened with my friend confirmed a feeling about Millennials everywhere. It seems like we just have to be right… like we know best… in other words, like we have nothing to learn.
You see one of our biggest failings as a generation is this insatiable need to be considered correct, praised, worthy and respected… before we’ve truly earned it.
And here is the #1 big idea:
If you’re always trying to be right, you’re not proving that you’re a learner (what I would argue is one of the most desirable characteristics of millennial employees… or any employee for that matter).
As young (yes, its okay when they call you “young”!) employees we’ve got to stop trying to win every debate and prove that we are learners instead. Because if you can admit that you’re wrong, you can prove and project that you’re teachable. And bosses, employers and organizations everywhere LOVE teachable people!
How he was acting, how we have ALL acted-give off the perception in these small yet consistent interpersonal staff moments that we have it all figured out and we will let you know when we need further input. And this is a HUGE teachable moment for, I believe, professional Millennials everywhere.
When I finally approached my co-worker and friend, we eventually got to the heart of the matter which is ultimately one of attitude and maturity. As Millennial leaders, we must lay down the fight to be right. At least if we care at all about being given more responsibility and rising in the ranks of our leadership and organizations.
One pastor in our area is fond of saying, “you don’t even know what you don’t know…” Another nationally renowned pastor, Craig Groeschel, implores young leaders: “find someone who gives you the gift of disorientation”
So two questions that you MUST ask, if you care whatsoever about growth:
Do you have someone in your life who can give you that which you are lacking in knowledge or understanding? (That you didn’t even know you were lacking!)
When (and by who) was the last time someone gave you the “gift of disorientation?” (By causing you to think about things that are 5, 6 and 7 steps ahead of where you were!)