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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