Good morning, Tuesday. I'm still home enjoying my last 24 hours of chillness. I don't mind. Many of you went back today and all of us will most likely be back tomorrow, so as we level set for 2017, work is obviously top of mind. Some of you are working in offices with many people, some are armies of one like me who are choosing to make their own way. Regardless, work is often a stressful endeavor. They don't call it "work" for nothing, right?
So my husband sent me this amazing Ted like talk by Simon Sinek, about everyone's favorite workplace topic, millenials. Oh, millenials. You must watch this interview. It's great.
I don't know a single trend person, marketing person, or really any person who has not been flummoxed, fascinated, or frustrated by this demographic. I myself have been intrigued by them and am the first to admit that I enjoy the company of young people and love their energy, enthusiasm, and wide eyes. But one very important thing Sinek notes is that millenials, although lovely, lovely people who believe in changing the world, don't have any tools to deal with something very important. And that's stress.
I'll let you watch the vid, but Sinek blames their parents and of course, too much time online, as the culprits for why this demographic is bad at stress. As a freelancer, I've come across it more times than I can share- it matters not where or how many people or how much free food or yoga classes there are on offer. There is a pandemic amongst this group and their inability to deal. In my career, I would have been shot (ok maybe not but fired) for such an offense. Because like it or not, it's not that my generation or any other generation knew how better to deal with stress, but we had very little choice. Because we had to. Oh and big surprise- my parents did not teach me how to cope with problems or deal with stress. At all. So I don't buy that bit as much because I taught myself how to do it. Because I needed to eat and pay rent and survive.
Cut to now- where arguably there are more stress management tools at our fingertips than ever before. There's apps for yoga and meditation everywhere. We can now wear yoga pants to work so we can go to yoga class after work. As a group, millenials eat better and healthier than any group I have ever seen. In fact, they shut down when they can't get something green in their bodies. We practice mindfulness and strive for balance and look to our employers to take care of us. And sure this stress management movement came out of far too much stress, but in my mind, it's not really helping. It's kind of just stoking the flames. I admit my approach to stress has not always been sound or healthy, but just because you're doing more yoga does not in any way guarantee you are better suited to deal with stress.
I remember very clearly in my 20s working for people that had no patience for hysterics or my work/life balance. Not a single one.
And sure I remember crying in a closet and feeling overwhelmed, but guess what? I dealt with it. Because I had to. I'm not sure why anyone thinks otherwise. And though I sympathize with a lack of coping skills, I don't have a ton of patience for it. I'm not advocating for martyrdom or pure selflessness at work, but sometimes, ok many times, you have to put your own ya yas aside and do what's best for the team. Or the task. Or whatever. To me, that's what is often missing from the millenial mindset- it's not laziness as some people see it- it's just an inability to think big picture, and maybe it's because of so much of this "be here now" movement we've all embraced. Because when it comes to work, you can't always just be here now. You need to be ten steps ahead. As a producer, that has always been my job. Anticipating. I often think today's young workplace is so caught up in the moment of chaos they can't see anything ahead of them. That's the best way to navigate stress. To plan ahead because even though everything is in a swirling tornado, eventually you're going to have to rebuild your house. And if you're too focused on how to navigate the swirl and not looking forward, no bueno, friends. I know this sounds completely weird to some of you, but I thrive on stress. I don't want it to put me in an early grave, but I've come to love problem solving and am even slightly suspicious when things are going "perfectly". Stress can be energizing in a way- as long as it's not totally toxic. How to avoid that? Everyone needs to get onboard and not fall down. Perhaps it's my Eastern European/Jewish DNA, but I'm ok with everything not being easy and more often than not, hard. Because I was raised (right or wrong) that life is often about suffering, and because of that, it makes time off so much more special. Call me crazy, but I like to earn time off. And nice things. And license to wear pajamas for days on end. A stressful project always makes me appreciate what I have that much more. But that's just me.
I love Sinek's take on millenials at work, but I'm not sure I fully agree it is our responsibility to teach them to deal with stress. I do believe we need to accommodate their need for balance, but we can't be their parents. At least I don't want to be. I don't have kids. So...Plus Sinek advocates for less time online and on our screens, and though I can't imagine that will happen, I would like to see more people engaged in actual conversations and less IM/status updates/email recaps. Ain't nothing like the real thing baby. I also understand that in a world of instant gratification, patience is not a virtue anymore. It should be. It needs to be. Success takes time. Stress management takes time. Building strong relationships take time. There's no real app for any of those things, incidentally.
And though I've embraced meditation myself to deal with the work/life willies, it does not change the fact that there will be stress. And it's not just meditation that is going to help me deal with that- it's planning ahead despite the chaos of modern work and looking at the big picture and knowing it's not always just about me. PS- not a bad strategy in relationships either- another area where millenials often fall down. In my experience, millenials think about the future in a very different way. I worry they will consistently be unhappy with work when it gets tough- maybe that will lead to more entrepreneurs which is great, but who will then prepare the next generation for challenging times? Even if you switch careers from say, advertising to owning your own flower shop, you're gonna have stress. And that's that. Because as the quote at the top of my post notes, this stress is going to propel you forward. So stop trying to get rid of it, and embrace it and stare it straight in the face. Then punch it in the neck.
So as I finish out my happy little holiday, I'm sure this year will be full of challenges and stress. I may not always deal with either of those things perfectly, but you better believe I'll cope, the best way I know how. To not get bogged down by the situation and focus more deeply on how to come out the other way, however and whatever it takes to get there. Toughen up, millenials. You'll never make it otherwise, even with all the yoga, meditation, and green juice you can imbibe. Realize that work is hard and life is hard and though I very much believe in balance, I also believe in the big picture and my role in it, and how much sweeter it can be on the other side of the storm if you throw yourself in headfirst. And sure, I'm super relaxed right now and most likely won't be tomorrow, but I'm ok with that. There's no doubt it's going to be a stressful year, and all we can do is ride out the storm, because when it comes to work, the calm almost always inevitably comes. I'm not always great at it, ps. But I realize it's part of life and no longer melt down in closets. And that's what's up this back to work Tuesday in the 718. Yours, in stress management and coping skills. Namaste. XO