Just the other day, I was in a coaching session with a millennial where we spent a lot of time discussing her personal purpose. Deep in the heart of every person is a profound desire to answer questions such as, “Who Am I”?, “Why Am I Here”?, “What Was I Born To Do”?
There is a purpose that pulsates in the heart of every human being on this planet. We can suppress it, deny it, and mis-direct it, but we can’t eliminate it. Purpose answers the question: “Why were you born?”
Now the fact that this coaching conversation happened to be with a “millennial” is not a reflection in any way of millennials as a whole. As a matter of fact, I have had the same conversation with senior citizens, boomers, and lots of members of “Gen X”, countless times.
In my view, “millennials”, the generation who were born roughly between 1980 and 2000, get a bad rap today. Baby boomers took over the workforce when they came of age and made a huge impact. So, it is not a surprise that they raised their children to do the same. Millennials are streaming into the boardrooms and cubicles and co-working locations of the corporate world, and some baby boomer managers and leaders have responded with negativity and labels, rather than support and empowerment.
Here are seven traits of millennials that every coach and leader should keep in mind:
- Alignment. For many millennials, the concept of work-life balance is a lie. They feel that the corporate world seeks to make you trade a job you hate for good pay and vacations. Millennials believe in work-life alignment and aligning their life passion with their career interests. This speaks to how practical millennials are, because really, who wants to spend 50-70 hours a week of their life investing in something they don’t believe in?
- Entrepreneurial drive. Millennials figured out early that big corporations and government don’t really have their back, and so they tend to think outside of traditional schedules and secure pensions. They are risk-takers, often interested in trying new things, and often open to innovation and disruption.
- Mission and project focus. The endless grind does not work for most millennials. Millennials come to work and seek to build their work-life in blocks or projects. They want a clear objective over an understood timeframe and solid deliverables, and when they achieve it, it’s a notch in their belt that can open future opportunities.
- Inclusivity. Millennials are capitalists in the truest sense of their word. Everything, and everyone, is put up against the lens of adding value. Millennials don’t evaluate based on time but adding value. They seek to create space and open opportunity for all, regardless of skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious background.
- Loyalty. Millennials are extremely loyal. Millennials have more information at their finger tips than any other generation in history and so make their commitments based on a whole and authentic picture. The difference is that millennial loyalty is not blind loyalty.
- Freedom. Millennials feel that if you learn something new that you’re strongly interested in, why not chase it? Life is short, and most millennials aren’t interested in putting in 10 years at a job just because they think it will make their resumes look better.
- Passion + Purpose are non-negotiable. Millennials chase happiness. And for millennials, happiness is found in the search for passion and meaning. This is something most millennials have a deep understanding of.
In fairness, the question of passion and purpose is not that much different than the rest of us. There is a purpose that pulsates in the heart of every human being on this planet. We can suppress it, deny it, and mis-direct it, but we can’t eliminate it. Purpose answers the question: “Why were you born?” So, why do we need a purpose?
- Purpose Captivates our heart, attention, and focus. Without a clear sense of our Purpose, we will not reach our full potential. The laser beam of clear Purpose inspires us to clear out the clutter and live a disciplined life. The tragedy is that many who do not reach their full potential do not reach that potential because they invest too much time in areas where they have the least potential. If we really want to make a lasting impact, then we need to eliminate what we do well for the sake of what we can potentially do best. If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.
- Purpose Creates. One seed of Purpose inside of you contains the power of Creation itself. Within one seed is enough life to plant a forest, grow a farm, and feed a community. Within the seed of our personal Purpose is enough to Create rich and lasting fruit for ourselves, our families and all those we care about.
- Purpose Calls. Purpose can call us to something higher than ourselves. Sadly, some of us have been conditioned to believe the lie that, “It’s all about me”. Purpose calls us to a higher way of living, not limited by a “me-centric” mentality. George Bernard Shaw wrote: “This is the true joy of life: being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
- Purpose Clarifies. Purpose is a wonderful thing because it becomes an internal GPS, a built-in guidance system that clarifies a path for you to specifically follow.
- Purpose Connects. An amazing thing happens to us on the way to fulfilling our Purpose: we find others who are headed in the same direction and meet up for the ride! Purpose Connects us to the world around us and draws us away from a place of loneliness and isolation. The only thing more satisfying than living a life of purpose is doing so with others!
- Purpose Completes. People who are in hot pursuit of their Purpose are generally happier and more complete than those who simply drift along. As Charles Allen said, “Miserable are the persons who do not have something beyond themselves to search for.” People who do not fulfill their Purpose in life generally live with regret. They knew inside that they were more than they revealed.
So, briefly, how do we discover our personal Purpose?
- Passion – what do you have a passion for?
- Ability – what do you do well?
- Personality – in what ways do you feel you fit?
- Opportunity – where are the doors open?
- Relationships – where is there synergy and resonance with people around you?
Millennials. Gen X. Boomers. Seniors. In the end, we are all just people, looking for purpose, seeking to make a difference. Clarify your purpose and embrace it. This is your place of power and productivity!
Abe Brown, MBA is the Coach’s Coach, and is the Founder and President of Momentum Coaching (https://www.momentumcoach.ca/coach/), Wellness Innovate Corp (https://wellnessinnovate.com/) and the President of the Certified Coaches Federation (https://certifiedcoachesfederation.com/). Momentum Coaching focuses on leadership development and high-performance training. Wellness Innovate focuses on workplace wellness and psychological safety. The Certified Coaches Federation has trained and certified over 13,000 Life and Executive Coaches.