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Essay: Millennial Loyalty

Posted by on June 12, 2017

Millennial Loyalty

…and What it is Worth

It must be because I look quite young for my age, but I find myself engaging in conversations with experienced and founded line managers who – somewhere along the line – say “it’s you millennials” or “it’s just the millennial disposition”.

“What is this disposition?” I try and clarify.

“They come in here, work for two years if you’re lucky, take what they want and leave!” is the heated response.

“Why do you think they do that?” I enquire.

“No loyalty. They’re entitled and think they know everything and have no patience to deal with anything long term or sustainable.”

With this colourful conversation depicted, I stand in great stead to respond with a defence to my yearlings. We cannot help the fact that we were born into an age already running. We can only raise our voices to the reality of our situations. We may come across as entitled, but the number of cartoon artworks brought out by truthful cartoonists and satirists of today’s age can illustrate a different perception of what the situation actually looks like from a millennial’s perspective (check out Willie Muse and Karina Farek for College Humor; Adam Ellis; and Brooklyn Cartoons for some good satirical and ironic laughs).

We do not have the luxuries of the past – no matter how hard-done-by those luxuries were “back then”. We have plenty of dream-ware; things that give us inspiration and free our thoughts to the great possibilities and myriads of options available to us and in the future. We have been untapped to a new version of dismay and despair. We can see it, so vividly! The countless endless possibilities and opportunities! But we have no idea how to get there. We have to have experience to get the job that will give us the experience we need to get the job we do not have. An endless cycle of incapacitation occurs. So when a person says “you have to work from the bottom up”, it is quite likely you are speaking to someone who has worked at the bottom over and over again and still cannot find a way to escape the abyss of cyclical reinforcement. As the preservation of the past minds takes precedence over the future creative and bemusing alternatives flourishing in those up and coming, we find ourselves drawn into a pattern of self-impairment.

We hire the new millennial. They leave within two years because they have now accumulated the knowledge that they needed. They move to the next place, which is often not a step up, but rather, a step sideways or diagonally across factions and ladders and hierarchical politics. All in an attempt to get the special factor that incorporates “talent”. And how can we expect anything else? When we now have set expectations that a cellphone is a mini-computer-and-more that can do a million and one multiple tasks, it is no wonder we could begin to assert that expectation (knowingly or not) onto our youth. They are in competition with the very information that we have gathered over the years. With the very inventions that we created. We must be as adjustable and plug-and-play like as the various apps that can be downloaded at a tough of a button. It is no wonder we are running from place to place – never knowing where we may be found of value, never knowing where we may find value.

So what actually sticks these millennials in place – if not physically, then at a higher level than that? Think about the myriad of options we have available to us today. There are so many brands, so many alterations, so many personalisations; all of which are aimed at us trying to be special and unique in our own capacity. We do not want to be sheep. We want to be the head sheep. The one with the mowhawk and green sparkles that leads all of the other sheep – this of course before the one with the blue afro and dark glasses leads them in another direction all together. We want the air of power, we want the atmosphere of grandeur, we want the illusion of greatness. We know it will not last. We know it will not come easily or at will. We know, so we go running, and hoping, and forever dreaming. And the more we dream, the more we fall into disenchantment at our own predicament.

There is a reason why the new generation’s diagnoses of debilitating mental disorders has grown in numbers. Not because we are now more aware of the prognosis, but rather because we have established an environment that breeds it within us. We may not be more intelligent than previous generations, but with so much more information available to us at any point in time, we have gotten smarter in our use thereof. This takes us to a level of competent incapacity. This is what makes us frustrated. This is what makes us impatient.

If a person – never mind a brand or an organisation or a thing so intangible that it is merely another name thought up in an act of creative quirkiness – a person approaches us. And takes the time to help us reach a point where that smidgeon of real competence can be put into practice…that person earns more than the old-school version of loyalty to a place or a thing. That loyalty rides with us as we traverse from place to place. That loyalty grows within us as each successful venture collides with more knowledge acquisition. That loyalty compounds into the small glimmer of hope that keeps us believing in what we are doing, in a world so busy that we can hardly believe in ourselves. We are not entitled. We do not have our hands reaching downwards asking for more and more. We are actually reaching up, asking you to pull us up to your heights, so that we can catapult humanity into something greater. Keep stomping on us, and what value do you really think you can get out of us?

Just like an organisation has a value chain, where quality assurance at phase one gives exponential output at phase four, so are humans a connected chain of value. A connected chain of giving to produce greater output. This level of loyalty is one of those things that connects the millennials to any other personified or juristic entity. We do not forget. We take the beatings. We take the name calling and the belittling. We take it all in, and then we choose to focus on the opportunities. The chances. The people that chose us. That helped us. And that will never fade. That will never break. So whatever you think of the millennial disposition, loyalty is the foundation of it – and whatever worth you predispose onto that, you cannot deny any of that value from the newer generation’s upgrade to it.

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Wonderwhiterabbit hopping off

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