Time to Embrace the Millennial Overachiever

“What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘Millennial overachiever’?”, I asked my friends.

One friend replied, “You, Jenny. You’re an overachiever.”

According to the loose stereotype, the “Millennial overachiever” is someone who tries always to be a superstar at work, wants to do more in a day than most do in a week, and doesn’t care who they pass in the process.

Ouch.

Since I was 16, my peers made fun of me for being an “overachiever.” I was Co-Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper and worked 20-30 hours/week at Starbucks. Then, I attended a top-20 university, where I did more-or-less the same thing.

At 16, I felt totally and completely alienated when someone called me an overachiever. Today, 10 years later, that feeling hasn’t changed.

Merriam Webster defines an overachiever as “one who achieves success over and above the standard or expected level especially at an early age.”

Since 1990 is the median birth year of the Millennial generation, 23 is the average age of today’s Millennial. Let’s profile the true 23-year-old overachiever Millennial:

They have secured employment during one of the most competitive job markets of all time; they command respect from her Gen X co-workers; they participate in activities outside of work; they are on a fast track to career success.

At 16, I felt totally and completely alienated when someone called me an overachiever. Today, 10 years later, that feeling hasn’t changed.

So, when are we going to stop stereotyping overachieving Millennials as peer-stomping, success-hungry outliers?

Like many stereotypes, this one is detrimental for several reasons. Here are four of my own, to build a case for respecting millennial overachievers, rather than shun them:

Millennial overachievers already fully grasp the work/life balance that most of the working world wishes to attain.

Most Millennial overachievers put in more than just the 9-to-5 work schedule, know how to carve out time at the end of the day for his/her passions and absolutely know how to “work hard, play hard.”

I consider this type of person someone I can learn something from, don’t you?

Millennial overachievers genuinely want to do a great job.

They have a vested interest in positively impacting your company. Some may argue these extra-hard workers are merely resume-padding individuals. More likely, however, they want to put their best feet forward while they help you grow your business. They recognize that doing a great job at your company is a win/win situation.

Wouldn’t you prefer employees with this work ethic, over someone who is indifferent to the success of the company.

Deep down, Millennial overachievers just want to make a difference.

At the end of each day, every Millennial overachiever has the words “make a difference” written somewhere on their bucket list. They are not satisfied with just settling for the status quo. They want more.

I am inspired by these people who recognize they are small fish in a big pond, but who want to make the pond a little bit better. This may seem a bit “Kumbaya”, but some of the greatest leaders share this mentality.

Millennial overachievers are mature beyond their years.

As I mentioned, the average millennial is 23 years old and has been through one of the worst economic valleys in recent history. A Millennial overachiever has a job (or several), participates in extracurriculars and probably has several social circles.

At the end of each day, every Millennial overachiever has the words “make a difference” written somewhere on their bucket list.

Chances are that when you meet a Millennial overachiever, you’ll be shocked to find they aren’t a few years older.

In challenging ourselves to stop slapping “scarlet letters”on Millennial overachievers, let’s encourage that win/win situation they strive for.

Do you have an example of a Millennial overachiever that inspires you? Please share it in the comments below.

 

Continue reading our New Leadership series with Organizational Leadership and a Better Society

 

 

Art by: Jdarkly

Jenny Fukumoto is a “Mexicanese Marketer,” beer buff and networking nerd. She’s currently the Marketing Manager at Ragan Communications, where she, for the past 2.5 years, has overseen Ragan's digital marketing and contributed to Ragan's publications, PR Daily and the Millennial Mafia blog.

  • http://twitter.com/tedcoine Ted Coine

    Jenny, if a deep and abiding drive to make the world a better place is Kumbaya, then guess what? The rest of the ExchangeGain community is singing that tune right along with you! Kumbaya, oh Jenny. Kumbaya ;)

    Great post – thanks for contributing. It sounds like you’re really enjoying yourself while you achieve, so there’s no “over” to it. Not to me, anyway. Keep up the inspiring work.

  • http://twitter.com/DrJanice Dr. Janice Presser

    Jenny, did it ever occur to you that you are not ‘overachieving’ but are just living fully to your very large capacity? That capacity knows no age, no gender, no race, no nationality. You just need to hang out with people who are like you. Ted, can we have another chorus now?

  • John Bennett

    From this piece, you are certainly a millennial overachiever. And the list you offer suggests their positive values. At the same time, may I suggest many seeking the respect appropriate for overachievers often think “me” far too much, cannot ever be a team player, and – maybe the worst – will avoid risks because of the increased possibility of mistakes occurring, damaging their image in their thinking.

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  • Doug Kirkpatrick

    Appreciated this example of a millennial overachiever… tmblr.co/Z7RB8ul34dpw @wavesofservice @slyubomirsky

  • Fausto Mendez

    I don’t understand why you’re paying attention to the opinions of those that are performing below your level. I’m a millenial, and I’ve been called an overachiever several times in my life. But I always view it as a form of jealousy, as if they’re saying, “I wish it was that easy for me.” Of course, it’s not always easy, but they don’t know that.

  • http://twitter.com/JennyFukumoto Jenny Fukumoto

    Thanks so much for having me in the series, Ted! I’m looking forward to the day when overachieving at a young age isn’t scoffed at.

  • http://twitter.com/JennyFukumoto Jenny Fukumoto

    No – I’ve never thought of it that way! I’ve just always been teased as an overachiever. Great perspective, thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/JennyFukumoto Jenny Fukumoto

    Hi John! Sure, there are plenty of overachievers/millennials out there who have the “me” mentality. I would love to talk to those people and reinforce the idea that you can’t demand respect; you must earn it! Thanks for the comment.

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