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Generation X: The One that's "Along for the Ride"​

I've heard from multiple sources that my generation is not only the smallest, but is really just a spec on the spectrum between Baby Boomers and Millennials. We're along for the ride of our pred/successors who paved the way and vote the majority. The powers that be had defined our generation with such a narrow window of birth years that there are only 65 Million of us born 1965-1980. So in that way, I guess we're kind of an exclusive Breakfast Club.

While no one wants to be characterized as the one that "doesn't matter" I feel a strange pride in the era of my reference points and I think they counterbalance the current generation quite nicely. Here are some our non-modern values that I think will swing back into mainstream:

  • Boredom - today it's called meditation -- the ability to put down the distractions and just sit and do nothing. I struggle with it myself now, but I'm still able to be bored. I don't know how we can introduce this to our children without a temper tantrum, but maybe something better will come along that will allow our kids to learn how to chill and let their minds wander.

  • The male pursuit - I cringe sometimes at the emasculation of men whether in sitcoms, memes, or TV ads. I think the biological direction is for the male species to pursue the female species (I also feel compelled to say sorry for thinking that) and we'll eventually return to that state once women generally become less angry at all men as they appear to be right now.

  • No media shaming - Gen X'ers were, perhaps, the era with the most number of mediums in the market at once and whether you had an 8-track, a cassette, or dabbled with land-line downloads to your Intel 386 PC, you were not judged for the medium (just the music). People didn't care if your listening gear (e.g. ear buds) were white or black.

  • Face-to-face - this is huge. I think we're with Boomers on this point. We're both from an era that talked to people without distraction. We learned to look people in the eyes when we spoke even if it was uncomfortable because it was necessary. Human connection is necessary. Of all the "old fashioned" values, this one is perhaps the one I yearn for the most for my children and future generations. If the Berlin Wall can fall, then the smart-phone barrier between us can too.

I have a real respect for the Millennials in a few areas, so let's cover those too:

  • Purpose driven - This generation questions its purpose in an organization and is not afraid to say no to things that don't align with those values. They're not willing to pour in hours of work without the added value of being part of a mission.

  • Affiliation - I see that this generation gains strength from their digital-validations. You can feel confident in your decisions if you've vetted them in your digital community. Those groups can strengthen, but can also blind us, so we are probably going to need to get wiser about how we use them, but the confidence that you are not alone has never been stronger.

  • Lifestyle first - Young people are taking on an enormous debt for their decisions around major expenses like college, cars, and homes, so they are often deferring those (and kids), and focusing less on "stuff" and more on experiences. I think that's wise. Good on 'ya M's.

So what's left to learn? Be careful about your sources of information. Nothing can be trusted like your first-hand impressions and experiences so you still have to go out and see for yourself. Stay close to those experiences as reference and not depend on heresay. If you and everyone you know has jobs, yet the employment report says it's at an all time low, you might be right to question the methodology of that report or determine that the situation is geographical (or maybe not true at all).

Things usually aren't as bad as the media paints them. They bait us. As a former journalism student (not a very good one), reporters are increasingly trained to elicit emotional response over everything (more ads!) and we, as a society, seem to be falling for it. But with the strength of character you've demonstrated around lifestyle and purpose, you can overcome this one too!

Kris FuehrComment