defense of entitlement

In Defense of Entitlement

A recent conversation with my son, left me feeling quite unsettled. The topic was work ethic.  As we discussed my short stint in retail work, I commented that my generation had a much better work ethic than his generation. I might even have been a bit boastful about it.

I expected him to defend his generation, or at least try to excuse the actions of “some” as not being indicative of “all.”  That is NOT what happened next. What happened instead is he attacked my generation!

As a baby-boomer I was taught to “work hard, always do my best.”  After all “your work is a reflection of your character.” Baby boomers were taught to “go the extra mile, keep our noses to the grindstone” and show deference to those who signed our paychecks. Then, if we were lucky, we could hope to advance to a better position.

Say all you want against this “entitled” generation, but I believe they are the ones driving the changes that are happening in business.

My son pointed out that it was those very platitudes that allowed “soulless corporations” to employ people at poverty level wages and keep them from bettering themselves. “Why”, he asked “should someone put their heart and soul into a situation like that.”

I countered with “pride in their work?” That really fell flat.

Lunch ended and with it our conversation, but I left the restaurant feeling like I had somehow failed him. What had I missed? What more could I have taught him?

That was two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve done a lot of thinking on that conversation. I’m starting to believe that maybe teaching my son his inherent worth was the best thing I could have done.

Say all you want against this “entitled” generation, but I believe they are the ones driving the changes that are happening in business. This generation is not willing to make a living at the expense of making a life. (How absurd! Right?)

This generation is not willing to make a living at the expense of making a life.

To find and keep good people, corporations are needing to switch from business as usual to business as “you-sual.” This “entitled” generation of workers are looking for meaning and engagement in what they do. They require that they be taken seriously and that their contributions be appreciated.

Even as consumers they are no longer satisfied with being handed what companies decide to offer. They’re driving innovation by demanding what they want to satisfy their own needs and desires.

This entitled generation could just be the best hope the world has had for a better tomorrow in quite some time. This old dog is grateful for a son who understands his own value enough not to just go along to get along. I’m grateful that I taught him that his point of view is as valid as mine and that he feels entitled to express it. I’m looking forward to seeing what more he and his generation have in store for us.

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Copyright: iosphere / 123RF Stock Photo

Anita Stout is an author, and the CEO of Wellness Pays Inc. which focuses on helping people live better lives through better choices physically and financially. She believes her greatest contribution, raising six children, will prove to be her life’s masterpiece. She recently completed a new book titled Life Isn’t Broken (in editing) and publishes a blog by the same name. Her love of diversity, brilliance, and lively conversation, led her to her husband David, who pastors a different church than she attends and has opposing political views.

  • Ben Simonton

    Soulless corporations who employ people at poverty level wages? Wow! Kept from bettering themselves? How was that done?

    Why should someone put
    their heart and soul into a situation like that? Duh – to be able to support self and a family while bettering oneself by studying at night to learn valuable things!

    Millennials merely grew up in a land of plenty so they are accustomed to having everything they want and for that reason they expect to be given it no matter where they are. Can’t blame them for that. Sadly for them, the land of plenty is disappearing slowly but surely in the US – wages have not improved for almost 40 years so our average standard of living is on the way down. The middle class is shrinking steadily as more and more people become poor and dependent on government programs, over 70 of them. The capitalism that fueled our economic growth has been replaced by government created unlimited credit and the free markets that also fueled our economic growth are being replaced by government control. The nation that was the most prosperous by far and was the greatest creditor country by far has morphed into being the greatest debtor nation and less prosperous than quite a few, dropping steadily.

    I feel sorry for millennials since we that came before them have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

  • Cecil Whorton

    Living in the land of plenty by “the grace of God” does not equate to entitlement. My father live with passion and purpose to avoid being shot at and to survive the hardships of the great depression. He got a fifth grade education and rose to be successful.
    I was born in 1936, lived off the grid and learned through the school of hard knocks and in schools where the golden rule was taught along with prayer and songs like “row, row, row your boat and onward christen soldiers”.
    Living with a tight knit family and working together we have had our ups and downs. but have stood together and raised our families with work ethic.
    Times are changing and opportunities are available to those who have the gumption to put forth the effort to learn how the new change will effect their decisions or vice versa.
    Change, as I have said before is constant, we have to expect change and embrace it.
    A corrupt nation with insurmountable debt and too many rules and regulations, taxes, and disgruntled voters cannot stand. I too, feel for the young and restless that have been given too much and are not willing to earn a living. They were born with too much time on their hands, Too much TV, fast food, soda pop and available drugs.
    The warning signs are in your face and being taught through all forms of media. We are going to hell in a hand-basket if we don’t wake up, stand up and heed the warnings. It is written, “The poor ye shall have with you always” –Bible

  • Monica Nelson

    I find this article insightful and informative. I, too, am a baby boomer who grew up during a different time. And, it is enticing to want to apply yesterday’s standards to today’s generation. But, I see where they are coming from.

    As I recall, we did not accept the values the “older generation” placed on us. We were a different group of people with our own ideas and philosophy formed from the times we were born into. We set out to change the world too.

    And now that we have (the results are in the younger peoples attitudes), are we then going to deny them the same process? This is how change is effected . . . how we grow and advance as a society.

    Thanks, Anita, for your courage in pointing this out to us.

  • lifeisntbroken

    Thanks for your comments Ben. I also feel sorry for the millennials (and responsible as well) My son did the “go to school and learn valuable things” route. He was fortunate enough to be able to. That doesn’t always seem to offer better opportunity these days for the reasons you stated- sadly. I agree that betterment is crucial – even for the sake of betterment.

    To his point, while in retail I saw firsthand what he meant by “soulless corporations employing people at poverty level wages.” I saw babyboomers who had run businesses of their own – highly competent people – being paid below minimum wage and treated like complete idiots. Sadly many of them were buying their necessities on the company credit card at DEEP employee discounts and 29% interest rates. (which at one time would have been considered loan sharking and illegal) In effect some of them had become indentured servants, feeling unable to leave because of what they owed on their company card. I feel sorry for them as well.
    Yes, going to school at night to better themselves could still be an option for them as well I suppose. (however, retail hours aren’t consistent and are hard to schedule around.)

    My intended point in this was to acknowledge that some good has also come from what my generation not only calls “entitlement” but also helped create. I wish my generation felt a little more of it. After all aren’t we all “entitled” to be treated fairly and appreciated?

    My son, even with his point of view has incredible work ethic and skills as do so many of his generation. I believe they will bring about many good changes in the way that company’s treat their employee’s – and that’s long overdue.

  • lifeisntbroken

    Thanks for commenting Cecil

    “Times are changing and opportunities are available to those who have the
    gumption to put forth the effort to learn how the new change will
    effect their decisions or vice versa.”

    How are you defining gumption? Is it opportunity? Innate ability? Access to education? Motivation? Just trying to put it into context.

  • Greg Ferguson

    Who gave us the TV, fast food, and soda pop? I won’t include drugs because they do not relate to the other three. Fast food is the result of this work ethic your father had and that you want everyone to have. Because everyone is so busy trying to make a buck they have no time to put any care or effort into anything else in their lives, food being a great example. So we have quick, nutritionally void, salty/sugar foods because they are easy and cheap to make.

  • Cecil Whorton

    Gumption = Gitty-up-go / Get-‘r-done.. (Southern Redneck) among the many of my mom’s Southern vocabulary terms.
    try “Push it and shove it.” “Parental guidance” “Leader-ship” “Purpose” “Christian training and knowledge” O.K. ?

  • lifeisntbroken

    Got it. Thanks.

  • lifeisntbroken

    Thanks Monica
    I find the more willing I am to not only listen, but also to reflect on opinions that are different from my own, the more insight I receive. I might not always change my opinion but what I gain from understanding another point of view is always valuable to me. In this case a whole new perspective that I’d never allowed for opened up. We miss so much by closing ourselves off with judgement and assumptions.

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