Worthless and Lazy or Just Not Challenged

Everyone above 40 years old loves to rip on millennials. We love to point out how entitled, shiftless, lazy and/or non-productive this generation is. We call them the selfie generation. They want a free education. In fact, they seem to want everything for free. They are the entitled generation. They have no manners. They don’t contribute to society. They live online with digital friends and eschew real life relationships.

Yes, there are a lot of them living in the houses of relatives. They are underemployed. They are seemingly going nowhere.

What we are missing however, is much bigger. They are the smartest generation in the history of the world.  But, they are largely unskilled. Millennials can answer questions on a wide range of topics (or at least look it up on Google in a second) but they can’t frame a house, skin a deer, run a backhoe, level a door, change a tire or do any one of a number of manual skills. This is the smartest generation the history of the world – but with the least experience.

I love the saying “when you point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you” because it is so true. And it couldn’t be any truer than when we toss blame at millennials.

We are what's wrong with millennials.

We are to blame because we didn’t challenge them. We are to blame because we coddled them.  We are to blame because we chauffeured them to anyplace they wanted to go. We are to blame because we enrolled them in activities that handed out participation trophies.  We are to blame because we decided being their friend was more important than being their teacher. We are to blame because we either didn’t want to “be the bad guy” and teach them through stressful situations or we didn’t trust them enough to sit on our hands and shut our mouths when they needed to get themselves out of issues.

This generation of young people have at their disposal more tools, more intelligence, more passion and more skills than any in the history of the world. They just need us to challenge them. Things come too easy for them. They get instant access to anything they want to learn, but none of the difficult trials that teach the wisdom to use that knowledge.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not throwing the baby out with the bath water here. There are a ton of young people who are beating the odds and taking advantage of their opportunities for growth and rising up to their challenges – some because of great parenting and some despite poor parenting. These are the kids that are going to run the world. These are the kids that are going to fix everything we screwed up (while screwing up plenty themselves.) These are the kids that I see taking leadership roles and not shying away from responsibility, hard work or trouble. They are going to be stronger than any generation before or since.

by Chris Doelle


Also published on Medium.