Taking A Stand For The Millennials!

I have been immersed in the Millennial (M’s) discussion for a few years with business and non-profit leaders. The general consensus is these people, who are mostly from the Baby Boom or Gen X generations (the over 35 crowd), have much to say about this young generation now maturing into our workforce, and most talk is negative. My sense is that, like human beings most often do when confronted with an unknown or something new, we shift blame to those causing us the discomfort, in this case onto the M’s.

Yes, we say they were coddled, given much more attention from their parents, and were given trophies for just showing up to their soccer, baseball or you-name-it-any-other activity their parents over-booked them in while growing up, and a lot of that is probably true. Yet, as I reflect on my own generation growing up, my parents and millions of others, were hell bent on giving us kids much more than they were given. Indeed they did, yet I can still hear the words from adults while I was a coming of age in the 60’s and 70’s complaining about people my age (now 62) not wanting to work, being lazy, or with our long hair and burning bras causing mass confusion and disappointment in so many of our elders back then. We represented change and we shook their cages, causing many realities to go out-of-business.

Blame, shame and ignorance is no longer a strategy for dealing with what is already upon us, and that simply is that the system the traditionalists, boomers and X-ers have been life-supporting throughout our lives isn’t really appealing to these young people, who were raised with parents who told them, “You can be anything you want,” or “Go follow your passion and interests.” The M’s have been hitting corporate America and for the most part finding it unfulfilling, confining, unsupportive or uninteresting.

I take a viewpoint of leadership that goes deeper under the surface of how issues seem to appear. If we have young people viewed as apathetic or indifferent, maybe it has something to do with the fact that we leaders haven’t created cultures that are open to change, nor created workplaces where people can grow, or don’t have purpose-driven cultures (beyond making the boss happy and the company money) that give these M’s the deeper connection to their work and themselves they earnestly desire. If we say they have a sense of entitlement, maybe what is going on is that we haven’t created workplaces that have ample and constant communication with them, or we haven’t offered enough coaching (versus telling), or we don’t know or don’t allow them to play full out to their natural gifts and strengths.

The most disturbing data that has been tracked by The Gallup Organization for decades is on employee engagement. This is the metric that each month is gathered by Gallup and the sad fact is that the numbers have remained fairly stable overall for dozens of years. Look below and see for yourself how low overall employee engagement is noted by generations.

Millennials Gen X Baby Boomers Traditionals
Engaged 29% 32% 33% 45%
Not Engaged 55% 50% 48% 41%
Actively Disengaged 16% 18% 19% 14%

                                                                                                                             *Gallup 2016

From Gallup we see that no generation is that enthusiastic about their jobs, and as we look at the younger generations we see significantly diminishing numbers. This is appalling given that work takes up more time than all other aspects of our lives, and for most people is the number one indicator of our overall well-being in our own lives.

A question I can offer to all of us boomers and X-ers is, if we are so unengaged with our work, why do we want our kids to follow suit? If we can’t find work interesting, challenging, pulling at our passions, inviting us to play full out, how can we expect our kids to do the same?

Rather than chirp from the bleachers, or turn my head and hope it gets better, I have come to a few commitments I am willing to make.

1. The M’s now outnumber the Boomers as the largest number of people in our U.S. workforce. They are a force to be understood and embraced.

They are inheriting the big challenges created by previous generations and need every ounce of support, wisdom, coaching and direction the best of our generations can offer.

The way I see it, if I want to be a force for good in this world, I must, and I am now committed to doing everything I can to make them the most self-aware, self-motivated, self-responsible, successful and significant people our society has ever seen.

2. The Boomers and X-ers must take time to get a deeper understanding of what M’s really want, how they tick, and where they are looking for help beyond what their parents or our education system offered.

For example, I find they have a huge fear of failure, and will procrastinate and not be timely with projects, so can we realize that possibility exists and create cultures where failing isn’t feared?

In fact, the most interesting places to work share a similar motto, “fail fast – learn faster.” We can either understand them, or we will lose.

3. The M’s are being sandwiched into a world of work where they are getting the life-force squeezed out of them.

We overlay hiring practices that don’t ask enough questions and hire too often from resume, pedigree, or our need, rather than fit for them and our cultures. We use antiquated performance reviews that sparingly offer needed feedback, or worse, suck the life out of all of us who do them and have them done to us. We have job descriptions that come from a time where management didn’t trust people, or just felt the need to control, and the M’s feel limited and then become disillusioned, disinterested and leave.

I / we in leadership roles must look at our own systems and cultures and be ready to lead necessary life-enhancing overhauls to make our workplaces come alive, foster trust, respect, teamwork, collaboration and higher levels of productivity.

4. M’s are more ‘world-aware’ and connected that any other generation, and yet are exposed to the same world and upbringing we all were.

I see all of us adult humans struggling from the various cultural conditionings we have undergone since birth, where beliefs, biases, fears and norms of others seep into our consciousness, steering who we think we are and what we think we should/have to do to fit in. In our heart-of-hearts we sense we can and want to be much more, more happy, fulfilled, effective, useful, valued, loved, successful, or significant, but don’t know how to fully self-actualize. I for one want to help as many of them re-connect with their own authentic essence, building on the promise of their youth to find their passions, set their own values, uncover their innate strengths and gifts, and build a life of purpose.

I commit to be of service helping as many see that “connection” goes far beyond what technology provides, where true connection comes between healthy, trusting, caring people working together for a common cause.

By the way, when you really look at what the M’s want from their work, it’s so very similar to what everyone of us boomers and X-ers want – interesting and meaningful work, be able to grow and improve oneself, to tap all available talent and skills, feel like we are contributing and are valued, be respected and involved in necessary communications, and feel like our work enhances our lives, relationships, health and well-being.

I have decided that for me I want to be the change I wish to see by helping this new generation be far more successful, significant, and prosperous and full of well-being that any before it. I welcome leaders in every sector, and who are in for-profit and non-profit organizations to see the value and the potential this generation offers the world. If we can be more conscious leaders, see what’s really going on, and then step forward with all our employees, we can literally solve any problem that comes our way and create a better future for us all and those coming after the M’s!

Now is the time to open our eyes and see all the potential, the possibilities that the human spirit unleashed can deliver! Bring on the Millennials! I Am a Millennial!

What Do You Stand For?

I’ve been immersed of late in a few programs that all touch on the topic of “Purpose.” Over these past 20 years, seeking the meaning to life, getting answers to the big questions, figuring out who I am and who I am no longer, had been a journey – a journey which recently I have joyfully completed. I have come to such starkly simple personal realizations that have been personally transformational and empowering. Rather than finding new things, people or roles to play to be fulfilled, happy, or successful, what I have come to know is: who I am, why I am here, what I value, what I am most passionate about, and what I can uniquely offer the world all come down to a few seminal “ways of being.”

What is meaningful to me about being fully alive is to just be awake, aware and connected to ‘what-is’ in every present moment. Allowing each moment to play itself out as it is unfolding, with no judging, shaming, blaming, cynicism, resignation, or emotional hijacks from past-programming lets me be open to just ‘being-with’ what is happening, and frees me up to either fully enjoy it, or be more creative in it, or be able to bring whatever gifts it needs to resolve issues or challenges much more effectively.

My “why,” or purpose for this life is ‘To Connect’ – connect to all of life and everyone, every thing, every situation with my full essence. My core values are: to grow/evolve; authenticity, integrity, intimacy, and love. Passion flows through me when I am connecting to meaningful moments, people, and experiences. My highest vision sees a world of people awakened to their authentic selves, free from the restrictions of ego, limiting beliefs, past wounds, stories and fears, and my life’s dream now is to awaken as many people as I possibly can to the own authentic presence.

Staying in that pool of awareness as I write these words, what is now top-of-mind for me is the question, “what do you now stand for Kevin?”. Taking a stand is a great way to invite yourself into a new way of looking at your life, your world – both as how you created it to be so far, and what you now can best see of and for yourself by living with new possibilities. Taking a stand is when your values, passion, strengths, visions and purpose align within you as a power like no other, and has high value to others who you allow into your world and how you can be of highest service.

What do you stand for? The questions that have proved most helpful to me in answering that question are:

– What touches you or moves you to experience powerful, positive feelings and emotions?

– What inspires you, lifts you up?

– What positive themes have been always present throughout your life?

– What do others say of your gifts they most appreciate about you when you are your best self?

– What values do you hold most dear that drive how you make your best choices?

– What sense of purpose do you know has always been inside of you, waiting to play full out?

– What dream(s) or song still inside you wants to play, be fully realized?

– Who do you want to be when you grow up into YOU?

What has become so clear to me now is that in my “way of being,” I stand for the possibilities of: loving connections, authenticity, awakening others, and empowering leaders. These words tie in so meaningfully and beautifully with who I am and what I can best take fully into my life and in connections with others and the world. This is the true inspiration, motivation, reason I need to drive my desires, commitments, intentions to make the highest and best choices I can. In this way I can best serve others and be fully utilized simultaneously. Joy, meaning and well-being are the results of my taking that stand in every moment of my life.

What do you take a stand for – a stand for which you feel and know is totally right for you – and that allows you to bring your best self to life, to others, to challenges and opportunities? What is it, if it was fully realized, would make you feel as if your life was a total success and you were completely fulfilled?

We all have choices – to stay in the life mode you are currently experiencing, or, because you know you are ‘sitting in the bleachers’ of your life and only experiencing some or infrequent jolts of real aliveness, you are ready to say yes to new possibilities. In the end your life is always up to you and the moment-by-moment choices you make that defines it. Whether your choices are made through the lenses of restrictions, excuses, reasons, and fears that drive your experiences, or are examined with honesty, authenticity, and a willingness to let go of what no longer is true for you, and an openness to being and living more as the authentic you!

Are you ready to choose anew? What can you now see that stirs the real you up? What do you now want to choose for you?

I hope you can give yourself some quiet, reflective time and allow yourself to reconnect with who you really are, what you are uniquely gifted at, and what is needed to allow you to be and become that for your own life, and for those you most care about.


The purpose of life is to first find what lights you up, see at what you are

most gifted, and realize what is most important and meaningful to you.

 Fulfillment, happiness, success and significance are the result you experience

when you bring that purpose fully to your life, to others, and to the world!

Deeper Perspectives on ‘Purpose’

We, in the conscious business movement, have been realizing over the last few years that when businesses and leaders establish a deep-rooted purpose for their business, their business results are far often much better than before, and they significantly out-perform others in their competitive space (Firms of Endearment). The type of purpose I refer to here is what’s called a ‘people-centric’ purpose, one that makes the reason the organization exists for the benefit, advancement, or service to other groups of people. This differs radically from the typical historical reason most people believe businesses are created for – which is to ‘maximize profit’ for the shareholders.

The most distinctive measure we have hard data on – employee engagement – has been charted by The Gallup Organization for decades. It reveals that between 20-30% or all employees feel engaged at work in some significant way. That also means that 70-80% of all workers don’t feel they find where they work, who they work for, or what they do to be very motivating. Yet our default purpose for business, to make the company money, more money, as much money as possible, doesn’t really positively impact most of us. We do as much as we need to, and typically no more.

Think about it for a minute, if you are not the owner of a business, do you really wake up in the morning and think, “wow, I get to go to work and make my owner a lot of money today!” Unless you are financially rewarded to drive a bottom line, you just don’t really care about that as an exciting reason to go to work. This leaves the ownership and ‘managementship’ in a tough place – as the ones who have a payoff to focus on profits, they have to keep grinding on others to get stuff done so they can get stuff out the door, get paid, and hope there’s a profit left over. It’s been the recurring story of businesses all over the planet over the past 150 years.

A growing number of business leaders, and over the last 10 years a significant number of entrepreneurial start-ups, have come to a higher level of awareness that there are easier and much more effective ways to more fully engage the heads, hands and spirits of people they bring on board to get things done. These men and women realize a deeper reason they are in their business, or see other more meaningful purposes for the existence of their business (beyond making money). These purpose statements are directed at improving, enhancing, nourishing, assisting, serving, human beings. They are deeply meaningful to the owners and leaders, and they take that essence directly into the daily fabric of everyday decisions, hiring, employee development activities, problem-solving, idea creations, performance reviews and rewards programs.

These purpose-driven firms look for others who resonate over the same things they care about, and make for easier, long-lasting hires. These leaders help people find ways to connect their work and performance to the company’s purpose, and experience far fewer costly mistakes. People who go to work at companies with a purpose stay longer and are more self-enrolled – which impacts so many areas of the business in so many positive ways.

Make no mistake, money is not the negative here, it’s how we have been going at making it that needs to evolve.

If making money is important to you, and you own or are running a business from the top seat, and you’d like to have more joy and peace-of-mind while making that money, you need to expand your understanding of human nature and motivation. Step outside that box where your comfort zone has been hiding, and begin to re-think your business and your own motivations. Why did you begin to do what you do, besides just financial gain? What about your organization and the products/services it offers really positively impacts others? What life-affirming, life-enhancing, life-supporting do you really offer? What about your business, your work, really touches you deeply?

Begin to think about these questions. Invite others in your firm into those conversations. Look to answers that help with the questions, “Who are you, why do you exist, who do you help, and why?”

If you as a leader can make your deeper purpose known to others, you will attract like-minds, and they will become advocates, even zealots for your cause. The next level of success awaits you – significance is around the corner.

Are you ready to be significant? The world awaits those who come alive – is that you?

The Power of Purpose

Have you ever wondered what your life is all about, and why you are here, on this planet, living in this time? What really, at the core of your being, has been a constant pull, a theme, a series of meaningful desires that keep calling to you?

Now ask yourself, what is / has been the purpose of your current life? Are you fulfilled living the life you are? If not, are you willing to do some self-assessment to find that part of you that would make you come alive?

I have come to hold true that the grandest purpose of our lives is to bring ourselves fully to every moment. Purpose is where we assemble all that we know, value, and believe about ourselves, add our innate gifts, abilities, and talents, and fuel them with our passions, vision, and goals. Purpose is the sum of everything you hold true and dear. It is an invaluable matrix that you put together. Each priceless element represents a key component of who you are, and strung together, they say to the world, “This is who I am!”

Our purpose is the blueprint and theme of our life. Purpose is our ground. It is the constant in an ever-changing world. It gives us direction, focus, and feedback as we travel through life. It allows us to carry out our life completely and confidently. It allows us to express our uniqueness without ego, harm, or attachment. It channels the energy of our passion into the connections and work we offer the world. It answers the questions “Who Am I, why Am I here, and what Am I to do?”

Knowing, truly feeling, and living one’s purpose leads to authenticity. Authenticity is revealed through living your life with purpose. Purpose channels our moment-to-moment thoughts and feelings, and it allows us to live our truth in every moment. It gives a name to our special existence. It allows us to interact in an open, honest, real, intimate, simple way that delivers continuous opportunities for happiness. We all marvel and connect with those who live from a loving, open, focused, and contented center. That same opportunity is available to every one of us – it becomes ours to manifest, or not.

I have learned that the purpose of my life is what I say it is. My purpose is the meaning I give to my life. There is nothing that I am supposed to do other than what I say. Waiting for outside affirmation keeps people on a Ferris wheel that goes round and round. I spent many years chasing the “what” and “why” from outside sources, including the phantoms that my ego loved to bring my way. Once I realized that I held all the keys and had all the power, things became clearer, simpler, and more joyful. People and events started happening that supported this new way of thinking, and my life has been fulfilling ever since.

Purpose answers the question “Why Are You Here?”

Author/speaker Simon Sinek says having purpose is the most powerful form of human motivation, especially at work: “Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”

I invite you to take some time and see whether you have a meaningful, life-affirming sense of purpose, and wake up each day ‘on-fire,’ or, if not, you begin a process of self-discovery that could significantly alter you life’s trajectory.

Consider the following questions, and see what opens up for you. Look at your answers to these questions around who am I, what is my uniqueness, my special offering to this life and the world? How can I best serve and be fully used and live with more freedom, joy, and fulfillment?

Q: Why are you here, in this world, right now?

Q: Do you have a sense of a life that you want to lead, a feeling of what you are meant to do or are supposed to do?

Q: What are you seeking?

Q: If you could live your life any way you desired, what would that look like? Who would you be, what would you be doing, and how alive would you feel?

Q: What are you trying to become?

Q: What difference do you want to make in the world?

Q: At the end of your life, what do you want to leave for the world?

Begin a journal on your answers, on what comes up for you. Let the following graphic help you see how purpose interweaves in everything you are, say and do.

Purpose pic (2)

I like to use the following formula that we all can use to re-connect to our own innate purpose:

Purpose = Awareness + Values + Passions + Vision + Gifts + World’s Greatest Need + What Can Sustain You

 Life is a gift bestowed on every one of us. The challenge is to live the life you intend, to live the grandest version of the greatest vision you can imagine, and to discover and unleash the abilities you possess so that everyone, including you, benefits from being in your presence. When we link all the elements of who we are into this chain, we create our most unique and powerful energy. Our purpose, our meaning of life, becomes the most effective, loving, and satisfying way to live. Re-membering our purpose, living a life of purpose, is the best definition of a life well lived.

Our shared purpose in Life is to find our Purpose – our individual Purpose is to give ourself fully to it!