What makes a character, a character?

Write about what?

457px-Théophile_Emmanuel_Duverger_Two_children_reading cRecently I was following a thread of writers discussing how to find names that make characters memorable.  Honestly I believe that writers should be looking at the reverse situation.  It is the skillful creation of a character whose strengths and weaknesses  strike a chord of truth in the reader that make the character’s name memorable. Names like Scarlet, Sherlock, Romeo and Ulysses invoke images of their fictional counterparts.

People seek out empathetic protagonists when they read. These characters are constructed so that people can relate to them and  even feel an emotional connection with them. One critical thing to remember is not everybody will identify with the same kind of character, which is fortunate because I would hate to be reading about the same person over and over again. It’s fairly clear that the ideal fictional character is a mix of strengths and weakness  – neither perfect or perfectly rotten –…

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A healthy suspicion

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While researching how successful people were in transferring leadership skills from one type of business to another (like the route of going from acting to politics that a number have traveled), I came across an article entitled “7 Reasons Leaders Can’t Transfer their Success to Other Organizations.” It sounded like a good place to start digging for ideas. Only the seven reasons were a list of universal characteristics of that could be applied to leadership at any place[1]– not the challenges which leaders face making it hard for them to succeed in another organization.

Why did the title not match the content? The author’s main premise was that leadership was either something you had or didn’t have, showing definite bias towards the belief that leaders are born. But the article hedged on the saying that leadership was strictly innate, instead ambiguously stating that “Leadership can be taught, but leadership is more of an attitude than a set of learned skills.”[2]

Research has been done on how to change attitudes, and apparently attitudes are not stable. They can change due to social pressure. Often people assimilate the behaviors of people around them, even when it rubs against their beliefs because that causes less friction.[3] However a resulting cognitive dissonance occurs. A longitudinal study found that most people change their beliefs to match their actions.[4] Other researchers have found that there is not a high correlation between attitudes and overt behaviors.[5]  People can comply with the demands of peers without changing their internal beliefs.

Individual motivation can also cause as change in attitudes. Often this is generated by a traumatic event, or a long period of suffering. Sometimes the resulting attitude is a stronger desire to be inclusive, or do what one considers right, and sometimes it is a retreat into bitterness. This is probably not a technique that people would be willing to pay for in order to learn leadership skills. Also, there is the likelihood that it will not work.

How about people who march to a different drummer, for whom the pressures of society have little effect on their attitudes. They may become a leader or an outcast or sometimes both. How many leaders can you name than were imprisoned at one time? Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Fidel Castro, Leon Trotsky, Adolf Hitler…. Now, you may not agree with all of their ideas, but enough people did for them to become leaders in their countries. You may recognize that these people are exceptions, typically when it comes to leaders, the majority of people prefer someone who supports the status quo, or a return to an idealized past, something that they can picture because they are familiar with it.

So this leaves us with few options for changing of attitudes (if leadership skill is actually based on attitudes). People can either surround themselves with those who have the leadership style attitudes and try to imitate them, or start acting like they own these attitude, whether they do or not. However, this very behavior has a common nickname, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” that brings it inyo obvious conflict with “Be Authentic” another attitude in the article “7 Reasons Leaders Can’t Transfer their Success to Other Organizations.” [6]

My conclusion?  Have a healthy suspicion of anyone who claims to be able to easily improve your leadership ability. It is a long hard road, which does include extensive learned skills and the willingness to go through experiences that will stretch you and even make you suffer.

 

[1] Llopis, Glenn. 7 Reasons Leaders Can’t Transfer their Success to Other Organizations. Forbes, 2012, Jan 10 @ 09:46 AM 11,
[2] Llopis, Glenn. Ibid.
[3] Cialdini, Robert B.; Goldstein, Noah J. (2004). “SOCIAL INFLUENCE: Compliance and Conformity”. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 55: 591–621. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142015.
[4] Fotuhi, Omid, et al. “Patterns of cognitive dissonance-reducing beliefs among smokers: a longitudinal analysis from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey.” Tobacco control (2012): tobaccocontrol-2011.
[5] Wicker, A. W. Attitudes versus actions: The relationship of verbal and overt behavioral responses to attitude objects. Journal of Social Issues, 1969, 25, 41-78.
[6] Llopis, Glenn. Ibid
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Filling the boots of a past generation

DSCN4016 (c)In centuries past leadership was earned by people as they aged, survived difficulties, gained wisdom, and expertise through years of experience, or often it was grasped by ambitious persons with a touch of ruthlessness. Throughout the history of humans, leaders who rose above the rank and file bestowed leadership positions on their progeny.  Two or three generations after the founding of a dynasty, there was frequently trouble within. Evidently bringing up children in a privileged state was not ideal for turning them into good leaders.

The population in the United States was suspicious of the power passed down by the kings and nobility to their offspring. Single-minded ambition and hard work could also bring about a rise to power as easily as receiving it from the patriarch of a well-known and wealthy family.  At least that is what Americans used to think, but that perception is fading. Perhaps because of the growing income disparity in the income and the establishment of a wealthy upper class passing on business leadership to their children.

When the Baby Boomer generation reached the age of employment, leadership training was sparse. A degree from college was considered adequate for those who wanted to move up in a company, but this advancement also required years of experience. Evidently the Millennial mindset is different. They know that a college degree is not worth as much as it used to be, but they are also eager for company-provided leadership training.

There is a shift to identifying high potential individual early and grooming their leadership skills. Many millennials feel that if their abilities have not been recognized after a few years they might as well pack up and move to another employer. Yet this threat really doesn’t have employers quaking in their boots. They verbally acknowledge the need to train millennials for leadership but do not take it seriously. [1]  There are still enough members of Generation X (and Baby Boomers without enough funds for retirement) that will hang in there with the company. (Bringing back a retire person to work contract/part-time without benefits can actually save companies money.)

So why is the media flooded with the necessity for providing training for Millennials? It’s a new start-up business, and the way to start a business is to create a need. The purveyors of this training claim they know what makes millennials ticks, because the vast majority are Millennials. They want you to read their articles, buy their books, and buy their training. They insist there is a dire need for leadership training so that Millennials can fill the boots of retiring Baby Boomers.

But do these peddlers of the need for leadership training really know what it takes to mold a generation that is often accused of being entitled, with little loyalty to employers and high demands for feedback and work-life balance into leaders? Of course there is always a caveat offered that Millennials will lead in a new and different way. Usually with an emphasis on collaboration and technology. This will spreading out the leadership responsibility, ideally making room for more of the upcoming generation to be leaders, and lessen the need to live at the office to be successful.

But that brings up the question, does leadership need to be redesigned to suit the Millennial’s style, or should they be seeking to learn the skills required to lead in the future? And exactly what are these skills? That’s what we will dive into next.

[1] Leadership Development For Millennials Not Seen As A Priority by Karen Higginbottom, Forbes MAR 14, 2016 @ 02:08 PM

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How do you define a generation?

IMAGE0087As people age they get more experienced handling the real world. So older people will tell stories about the younger generation throwing tantrums, crying and protesting over elections. However, riots over elections has occurred before. Ever hear of the Chicago eight? Or the Kent State riots? I recall a lot of Baby Boomers taking to the streets to protest what went on when they were young. In fact, we did a lot more protesting than the millennials have done.

So in review how do millennials really differ from earlier generations?

They know more about the culture of their parent’s generation, but less about the politics. When it comes to politics, the millennials have not paid as much attention to it as those age 18 to 35 did in the sixties and seventies. They often avoided involvement due to a growing distrust of politicians. But that seems to be changing.

Millennials have had a much more structured upbringing with less free time and less time spent with their parents than the previous generations. They face increasing pressure to spend more time working on a successful a career. And their attitude towards wealth shows that. Most didn’t go to college for broadening their minds. They went to college to get jobs that make more money.

However, making more money is not easy in the current economy. So they live at home longer, put off marriage and family longer and move from company to company hoping to move up sooner. Most still want to avoid becoming the “workaholic” type. They find building reputation and a following are as important for their career as gaining experience.

Millennials also flock to social media create this reputation for themselves. Even though the birthrate is slowing down in industrialized countries, the population still grows due to immigration  Millennials are more diverse than the last three generations. Over 50% of them have a parent that immigrated to the United States. Also, the older generations are simply not dying off as fast as they did a century ago.More people means the need to  distinguish themselves.

Finally, they have grown up with technology and masses of data that must be handled with computers. If changes in technology continue to increase exponentially, you can expect increasing problems with information overload. And this is the challenge that will likely define the millennial generation.

 American Freshman survey by the Higher Education Research Institute of UCLA
http://www.gallup.com/reports/189830/millennials-work-live.aspx
http://www.wmfc.org/uploads/GenerationalDifferencesChart.pdf
U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement
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Which generation is greener?

view-oct-sun-059It was April 22, 1970, and I was so envious of my friend. Warm buttery sunshine flowed from a mostly cloudless sky, and the breeze was just a gentle brush of air. Basically a picture perfect day in the small college town in the middle of the Illinois prairie. And I was stuck in the confines of a brick and concrete high school while my friend had joined a group from Illinois State University outside. All my parents had to do was sign a form permitting me to go, but my mother didn’t think it was wise for me to be mingling with the much older college students.

My friend came back to school that afternoon wearing her swingy hippy-style printed caftan top that complemented the faint reddish glow on her arms and face from the sun her skin absorbed during the march out to the edge of town, where they planted the symbolic tree. She friend was probably more excited about being out of school and getting the first blush of a summer suntan than the importance of involvement in the first Earth Day celebration. Still ask almost any Baby Boomer back in the seventies and the preserving the natural environment was a favorite cause, on a similar footing to halting the war in Vietnam.

Often my generation is criticized for global warming and other damage to the environment that has occurred over the past fifty years. It is true that Baby Boomers have become less concerned about the earth, as they became more concerned about energy to run the new technological advances. However, 60% of current Baby Boomers agree with 71% of Millennials in saying that we should development of alternative energy sources that are less polluting rather than expanding exploration of oil, coal and natural gas. It is the majority of the Silent generation that preferred not looking for alternative sources of energy that have directed much of our emphasis in drilling oil in the past. [1]

As a look back on my teenage years I realize the newly heightened interest in preserving what the earth, separated the Boomers from those that that the earth had plenty to offer with little impact on our environment. I am a little worried that the percentage of Millennials who are interested being active to preserve the environment has decreased by a third, compared to the Baby Boomers when they were young.[2] As a generation ages, there is a tendency to become less idealistic and less involved in causes they believe in. Currently there is a much smaller number of Millennials actively concerned with the environment than there were among my peers when I was young. However there is some hope; the most recent generation has grown up with recycling, distrust of excessive pesticides and appreciation for cars that use less gas as part of their everyday life. Finally, I realize that many Millennials are bummed about the fact that they will have a lower standard of living than their parents, but this is actually a good thing for the environment.

Photo by S.L. Listman

[1] http://www.people-press.org/2011/11/03/section-8-domestic-and-foreign-policy-views/ “The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election, Section 8: Domestic and Foreign Policy Views“ Pew Research Center, November 3, 2011
[2] http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/03/fame-giving.aspx “Recent Generations Focus More on Fame, Money Than Giving Back” American Psychological Association, March 15, 2012

 

 

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Changing the meaning of money

SC_charleston_houseTo my grandparents, born around 1900, money meant a kind of stability that allowed them to stay in one place and raise a family. Both of my grandparents had moved frequently as children. My grandfather wanted to buy a farm to provide a living that didn’t have depend on the whims of working for a boss in a company. Inauspiciously, he borrowed money to do this a few years before the crash of 1929. During the depression the farm provided food, but very little money as most people simply didn’t have the extra funds to buy fresh produce. Sometimes they would receive clothes or other goods for fresh truck crops. The person who loaned him the money was wise enough wait to for his money rather than take over a farm he probably could not sell to anyone else. My grandparent’s less fortunate relatives came to stay with them, so having the money was not as important as a place to call home.

My mother grew up and lived in one house until she left for college. My father did not have that luxury as his own father died when he was still young. He was not averse to leaving familiar places behind for opportunities. After serving 6 years in the military during World War II, he took advantage of the GI bill to pay for his degree. During the sixties and seventies we moved every few years because my father worked for company with the innovative idea of developing engineers by moving them to experience all facets of the company business. That might be great for developing people with a greater competency across the company, but it was tough on families to constantly face the challenges of adapting to a new community, new school, etc. It also made it nearly impossible for my mother to have her own career. However, for my father the importance of money was not to secure a single homestead, but as the sole provider for his family it was to give his family a life free from need and his children the opportunity to attend college.

My transient upbringing was not the same thing that occurred to most of my peers. They grew up in one place and moved into a larger nearby house as their family had more children and accumulated more possession. Money was a source not only of necessities but also “play things” which became a sign of status. After the sixtes, the United States economic growth met little bumps of recessions but kept recovering nicely until the economy started a steep decline that hit bottom in 2009. Being wealthy allowed some Baby Boomers to foot the bill for sky-rocketing education costs for their own children.

Meanwhile the idea crept in that one had to have money to make money, as a number of people had previously made money investing while  interest rate on savings had become laughably low. For Generation X and the Millennials that followed them, having money was a way to prevent the slide into a lower, struggling class. The lower class that they fear slipping into still has more in material possession than my parents did when growing up during the depression. That didn’t matter as they had no memory of life in the Great Depression. The chance to pull oneself up by the bootstraps seemed to have passed, so starting off with an advantage seemed to be a necessity to keep from losing ground.

The younger generation is really not imagining that they have something to fear:

“Millennials have benefited the least from the economic recovery following the Great Recession, as average incomes for this generation have fallen at twice the general adult population’s total drop and are likely to be on a path toward lower incomes for at least another decade.”[1]

So now you have a glimpse into why millennials have indicated that being wealthy is much more important to them than did the generations that came before them.

[1] Smith, Elliot Blair. “American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals.” Bloomberg L.P. 20 December 2012
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Is leadership training necessary?

George_Washington,_cWhat turns an ordinary person into a leader? Is it  an inborn aptitude; is it a learned skill? More than anything else a chance to practice leading provides the key. Leaders learn by leading. One of the things that Millennials are finding is they are just beginning to get opportunities to do this, but a large percentage of the smaller Gen X group that preceded them had even less chance to do this.

We need to look back at the beginning of the twentieth century to see how events have affected generational attitudes in the United States. The G.I. (or War) Generation, was born in the first quarter of the twentieth. Many lived through two world wars, and a number actually fought in one of them. They suffered though the through depression as teenagers and young adults. They produced a laudable number of leaders, but on the average didn’t live as long as the generation that followed them.

Also, most of the G.I. generation and the Silent generation, which followed them, received far more in social security benefits than they paid into the system. The Silent generation was relatively small due to the low birth rate during the depression and war years, but they found it easier to move up the economic ladder than any currently living generation in USA. Part of this was due to the devastation of World War 2 on the rest of the world. These generations may have experienced poverty but economic boom allowed many to retire early.They were willing to turn leadership over to the younger, more impertinent Baby Boomers.

Boomers showed more of a distinct change in culture from their parents, with drastically different tastes in music and clothes. They also had a more anti-authoritarian attitude than the two generations that came before them. However, a study on work values of the different generations made an interesting observation on this generation’s view of authority:

“Now, there is an exception for Boomers’ distrust of authority, and this exception is evoked when they are the ones in power.”[1]

Interestingly, generation born between 1946 and 1964 did not receive much of anything in the way of leadership training as they began to managing people; that was one of the purposes of attending college. Prior to Baby Boomers those that moved up into leadership were predominantly white and male, and often received the advantages of nepotism. The older cohorts of Boomers were raised in this tradition. But then came crusades for civil rights and feminism. More people made their profession a priority over their family. The cry arose for this opportunity of leadership to be extended to diverse groups. So there was a larger pool to be considered for leaders.

Boomers often assume that their age gives them privileges that younger generations have not yet gained. However, the right to remain the generation in power is a perceived right that they have clung to, unwilling to pass this on. This has left the Gen X and Millennial generations lacking in opportunities to improve their leadership abilities. So the need has arisen to train the younger generations for the task of leadership.

Will this work as well as experience? We’ll find out in the years to come. Meanwhile becoming a leadership trainer or coach gives the Boomers another kind of career they can transition into, which is helpful, because due to recent economic downturns many are never planning on retiring.

[1] Dogan Gursoy, Thomas A. Maier, and Christina G. Chi, “Generational Differences: An Examination of Work Values and Generational Gaps in the Hospitality Workforce, International Journal of Hospitality Management, 27 (2008):451
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What do you want from your job?

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAYou have heard it so often that it may seem cliché. What Millennials want at work is not more money. They want a higher quality of work/life balance. That means more flexibility… to work from home in pajamas, to take time to flesh out their new ideas, or to be given an opportunity to be in charge. The increase for ranking wealth as very important by college freshman, from 40% for Boomers to 70% for Millennials[1] indicates that Millennials really do want money more than prior generations. So why is more pay not as much of a lure for them to switch jobs as more flexibility and authority?

When I consider my early work experience I recall that perks – such as driving a company car, taking days off for numerous “community” events, or attending a team building retreat in Sedona – were the privileges of that divided management from those of us that had to show up at the office and work from eight hours, five days a week. Such privileges conferred status; the less necessary it was for you to be at the office on a daily basis, the more clout you had. Flexibility and authority went hand in hand with higher pay. This is something that millennials observed as they grew up. They understand that the reputation for importance at work is a key to obtaining both status and more lucrative work.

Millennials are viewing their career from the perspective of someone beginning a journey. The top thing they look for in a new position is opportunity to learn and grow. This is closely followed by quality of the manager and management, which is often based on the reputation of the company.[2] They understand that creating a reputation for themselves is the key to both more status and more lucrative work. But in the current economy, businesses aren’t prospering as much and money is tight. So if millennials can’t have a higher salary, they might as well look like they do. More responsibility coupled with more authority and the ability to work from home, or take off as they see fit has the appearance of a higher salary. These appearances may actually translate into more money next time they hop to another new job.

Boomers are viewing their career from the perspective of someone ending a journey. They have seen enough opportunity for growth and learning. Often “new” learning is simply relearning a procedure using a new software application. In my field, training and education, the new concept to learn is often the recycling of a theory that became the rage and then went out of vogue 50 years ago.  They are also aware of the stresses of positions of responsibility. Boomers seek high quality managers and management first. They know how hard these are to find. They also understand that quality in these areas lead to higher job security and less uncertainty about the future of their job. Like the millennials they also seek the type of work that interests them, but opportunity to cash in on future advancement is not as likely. The fourth most important characteristic of work, for Boomers in tight economic times, is a good compensation package.[3] With a short term future in their sights they want to avoid working until they are no longer able to without a drastic drop in their standard of living.

What this boils down to is the millennials versus the boomer ranking of the importance of a high salary (compared to others qualities of a job) is largely based on how much longer they expect to be working.

Photo by Nate Cull, CC 2.0
[1] American Freshman survey by the Higher Education Research Institute of UCLA
[2] Brandon Rigoni, Amy Adkins, “What Millennials Want from a New Job” Harvard Business Review, May 11, 2016
[3] ibid
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The desire for transparency

image0012b-copyEarlier this week was the 75th anniversary of “A date which will live in infamy” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt described the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in the U.S territory of Hawaii. The fact that the United States was vulnerable to such a destructive attack shook American confidence to its roots. The United States wanted Japanese to leave China and Southeast Asia, and had finally halted oil imports, but the two countries were not at war, and this reason for this unannounced aggression seemed unfathomable.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor was simply an historical artifact to my generation, the first of whom were not born until 5 years later. So we reeled in shock in 2001 at the devastating day we would “Never forget” when two hi-jacked airliners were flown into the World Trade Center resulting in their fiery collapse. This unconscionable attack was apparently retribution for a foreign policy that favored Israel over the Palestinians. However, my youngest child barely remembers that tragic day.

It is not so much that each generation forgets the past as much as they do not remember the emotional impact of major events. This is quite natural. They did not live through the fear of uncertainty. Learning about an event while knowing the outcome is not anywhere the same as surviving it. And in some ways this is beneficial, as we would be paralyzed by the collective fear of all the acts of mass destruction for imperceptible causes that seem to reoccur every generation.

The changes in the everyday cycles of our lives caused by past politics and events, both outrageous and ordinary, still mold the next generation. The two long term surveys, Monitoring the Future study of high school seniors, and the American Freshman survey of college freshman have found an increasing cynical outlook from Generation X to the Millennials. “As of 2012, only 19 percent of Millennials said that, generally, others can be trusted.”[1]

Accompanying this lack of trust, the surveys indicate a decline in community involvement among the younger generation. There is also a decreasing desire to keep on top of politics, descending from 50% for baby boomers to 35% for millennials.[2] You must remember these surveys occurred when people in the generations where mostly between 17 and 19 years old. I am not terribly worried. Typically with an increase in age there is an increasing attention to community and politics.

However, I can understand the recent generation’s skepticism with leadership. During the time of the World Wars when my parents were growing up, information about difficulties faced by this country was not widespread. Their understanding of the world was based on their local situation. Also, there was no proliferation of fake news on Facebook. Currently it is much easier to get both information and disinformation, and harder to discern between the two. Many Boomers haven’t seemed to catch on the fact that practically all new reports are biased, with increasing “spin” to woo audiences. The electronic age has made it easier to produce through media and internet what we want others to see. This mass amount of information is of no use if a large portion has an untrue slant.

So we may fret about how the millennials do not comprehend formative events of earlier generations, but no amount of “education” will ever duplicate what we lived through. However, we could learn from their skepticism. In light of the decrease in factual reporting, we need to dig down further and not take what friends, celebrities or politicians say at face value. We need to insist on real transparent sources. Keeping abreast of truth concerning politics is a frustrating endeavor. What the millennials desire now is transparency in an era of increasing muddying of the facts.

[1] http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/millennials-millennial-generation
[2] Jean M. Twenge, Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before, 2007

 

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Impossible to be unbiased?

aside2Early in my career at the turn of the decade (between the 1970s and 1980s) my boss gathered everyone in the office to watch a film on generational differences. When the polished speaker concluded his presentation, I noticed an interesting omission.

Turning to one of my co-workers I commented, “He said a lot about the characteristics of people in their twenties, those from forty to fifty, and those over fifty. But he never really discussed people in their thirties.”

She smiled pertly and with a flip of her head quipped, “That’s because we’re practically perfect.”

Then, I realized the film was targeted towards thirty-somethings, and had been made because they obviously were not as perfect as she assumed when it came to accepting differences.

Descriptions of generational differences largely continue to be entrenched in biases based on the viewpoint of a specific age-group. Managers over fifty complain that millennials don’t want to put in the long, hard hours necessary to advance and won’t stay put at their jobs. The smaller group in their forties describe how a poor economy has prevented them from advancing and now they are getting passed over for younger “digital natives.” Those in their thirties defend the need to job-hop in order to see any kind of upward progress. The younger group still in their twenties assert that growing up with computers from the time they left the crib has given them  the advantage, while complaining about being strapped with college loans that their elders didn’t have to worry about. No one seems to be able to step back and look at the differences without taking sides.

In order to get a less biased look, I’ve been reading research based on two long-term surveys, that have sampled the behaviors, opinions, and values of young people over nearly fifty years. The American Freshman survey has been conducted among new college students since 1966 by the Higher Education Research Institute of UCLA. “Monitoring the Future” or the National High School Senior Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, has studied attitudes of high school seniors since 1975.

There are some interesting trends that come to light from these studies. When Baby Boomers were in seniors in high school seniors and college freshman around 45% consider wealth a very important attribute. This attitude which has been increasing over time has risen to 75% among the Millennials. Although, the younger generation may not consider wealth more important than the older generation does now, they are deeming it a driving goal at a much younger age. The reason for attending college has also shifted in this same manner. The idea of learning in order to develop a meaningful philosophy of life has decreased from 73% for Boomers to 45% for Millennials.[1] Whereas about 70% of students went to college to learn about life and improve themselves (or perhaps to avoid the draft) in the early ‘70s by the turn of the century that same percentage were attending college as a way to become well off financially.[2]

So why don’t these trends seem to match so many articles on generational differences? Because we tend to compared what opinions the different generational groups hold now. Most 55 year olds will perceive things differently than 25 year olds no matter which generational group  they belong to. The split in opinions is also an in-group versus out-group comparison. It is impossible to look at a group with differences from our own in as generous and accepting manner as we see the people that resemble us, or at least resemble us outwardly. People the same age as us, look more like us and we do not judge them as harshly, because we considered them as part of an age-based in group. We all have a tendency to forget that we ourselves are nowhere remotely near “practically perfect.”

[1] Jean M. Twenge, Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before, 2007
[2]  “A Long Way from Flower Power” Economist, January 17, 1998 p. 26
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