We here a lot of criticism these days surrounding millennials and all the issues they have in today's society. They don't know how to work, they want the easy way out, they are addicted to their technology, etc... I have some news, they aren't the problem, the adults are!
I want to share a story that happened to me a couple years back. I was sitting in my office working a regular day and another agent stopped by and knocked on the door. I didn't know her that well but she was always very cordial around the office and she was friendly enough. But on this day we had quite a different experience.
She explained to me that her daughter was selling cookie dough to raise money for her sports team and wanted to know if we wanted to buy any. I responded, "You bet! Just have your daughter come by or call me and I'll be happy to buy some!" She then responded that she was doing it for them and I could just put the order in with her. I told her, "Well, I'd rather the kid come in and earn the sell, that way she will feel good about accomplishing something and she'll get confidence from earning the money through sales."
The mom lost it on me... "How dare you try and tell me how to raise my daughters! They don't have time to come here and do it, why do you have to be an ass about it?!" This is when I told her not so politely to leave my office. I don't even like cookie dough, I just thought it would be a great opportunity to help a few young girls with a guaranteed sale. I told her as she stormed off that she should really consider having her daughters do the selling.
I was so bothered by this experience because I truly couldn't understand how this mom had missed the whole point of selling the cookie dough. This was one of the few opportunities in a young person's life when they could go out and earn money through hard work. What an amazing opportunity to grow confidence and life skills.
My own experience was much different and maybe the reason this was so agitating to me... Growing up baseball was my whole life. Anyone that knew me in junior high or high school knows that all I wanted to do was be an amazing baseball player. Fast forward to my Sophomore year and I made the high school team. I had been cut as a freshman and so this was really my last shot to play high school baseball. When I found out I made the roster I vowed that I would do whatever I could to show the coaches they had made a great decision. I was all in.
A few days later the coach had a pre-season meeting and explained that each player was to sell 10 t-shirts at $10 each as part of being a member of the team. If you didn't reach 10 then you had to run a mile for each shirt you were short. Whoever sold the most got a pair of free batting gloves. I'd never really sold much apart from the occasional garage sale or lemonade stand but I was willing to go out and hustle to show the coach I was committed.
I went to the high school basketball game and walked parent to parent asking if they wanted one. I also spent the next 3 nights going door-to-door asking everyone in Murray if they'd like a $10 team baseball shirt. I really went all out to show the coach I was all in.
The day came about a week later when the coach asked all of us about our sales. First, he asked us who hadn't hit the 10 shirts goal. It was about half the team. Then he asked who had the most... "Anyone over 15?" There were 3 of us... He asked the first kid how many "15" the next kid "18" and finally he came to me, "How many shirts did you end up with Jimmy? Did you have more than 18?" I was almost embarrassed to say it, "Ya coach, I ended up with 167!"
The next 3 years my baseball coach favored me more times than I can remember. I got the benefit of the doubt every time there was a position battle between me and another player. I won't say it was directly because of that, but what coach isn't going to love a kid that is willing to do something that extreme just to prove how much he cares?!
As I look back on that, that was truly one of the first times in my life I sold something. It was the first time I knew I could do sales. I loved it. Delivering all those shirts over the next few weeks, not so much, but man I had found something I knew I could do and it gave me a shot of confidence I was never going to get from playing baseball or having my parents write me a fat check to pay for my obligatory 10 t-shirts. Who knew that it would lead to my entire career success as an adult.
To follow back up with the cookie dough incident, to the moms' credit she did have her daughter call me later that night. She gave me a great pitch and I asked her how many more tubs she needed to sell to hit her goal. It was a lot but I bought them all anyways cause I wanted her to appreciate the moment and I probably was still trying to prove my point to the mom. In a funny twist the second daughter then called me and so I ended up with A LOT of cookie dough!
I don't have children and so I am far from an expert on how to raise them but I guess I am just super grateful for parents that made me go out and earn what was mine to take. I don't think children will be entitled or lazy unless parents empower them to do so. They are learning on the fly, they are looking for guidance on how to live in this world. As the older generation, we sometimes forget that millennials were born into all of this technology. This is just their world to them, not the "new world" like it is to anyone over 30-35 years old.
Next time you hear yourself complaining about the younger generation, stop and ask yourself, "Is this something I empowered them to do? Is this something I am guilty of as well?" I think the answer might surprise you.