I’m a proud member of GenerationX. I would never disavow my status as such, even when we collectively come under fire from other generations. Though we can no more be considered identical than any other cluster of people (genders, races, etc.),
I choose to identify with the stereotypes about us that I feel are positive in nature and are aptly applied to a large number of us based on my personal experience.
I also identify with having a “Millennial Mindset.” I took the How Millennial Are you? survey from Pew Research and scored remarkably high (score to be revealed during Blended Generation Think Tank on Tuesday, April 21st 8:30 p.m. EST).
Is it possible to consider oneself having the mindset of another generation without relinquishing your claim to that of your own generation? I believe it is. I’m going out on a limb and proclaiming myself as GenerationX with the mindset of both GenX and Millennials.
As this post contains some sweeping generalizations, let’s first consider the nature and definition of stereotypes themselves:
I think we can all agree that stereotypes are used in conversation for the sake of brevity or context. We can also agree that stereotypes by their very definition do not apply to all of a people or thing, and that they are based on opinion.
Stereotypes – the word and the practice of applying them – are often held in negative esteem. People are quick to say “You’re stereotyping” as a means of critiquing an argument or distancing themselves from stereotypes they feel have been applied to them in a negative context or in error.
But I have seen a wider acceptance of stereotypes when they have positive connotations. For example, I am always inclined to nod approval when someone classifies me as a “hustling Gen Xer.” I tend to agree when someone stereotypes my parents as “strong/resilient Boomers.” I’ve seen peers my age do the same.
When it comes to defining the Millennial Mindset in general, I like Brian Fanzo’s take on it. So when I say that I identify with the Millennial Mindset, it’s his interpretation I’m referring to. From the post:
The definition of Millennial is about the age someone is born. The context it’s being used in today is talking about a philosophy and mindset where someone is digitally connected, socially aware and not afraid to lead and drive change. That doesn’t mean everyone born during a certain time is this way or people not born during those years doesn’t share this philosophy and mindset!” –
Brian Fanzo,“Are You A Millennial by Birth or Mindset?
I see myself as having a Millennial Mindset because, among other things:
- I embrace change quickly and happily when it’s strategic or even experimental
- I am digitally connected and outspoken, embracing new trends and advocating the ones I like
- I value and publicly celebrate mentorship and reverse mentorship, believing that age isn’t a factor in the value that can be realized
- I refuse to accept status quo when I see potential for a better, more efficient, more productive or even happier end state
- Many of my friends are born Millennials and I agree with them more often than I disagree
So what does this say for my allegiance with Generation X? Honestly, I don’t think it says anything at all. I have many Gen X and Boomer friends who meet the same criteria. Can’t we all just claim the aspects we like from each source? I think we can have our cake and eat it, too (perhaps another testament to my Millennial Mindset?).
Aside from identifying with the Millennial Mindset, I see myself as proudly Generation X because I also:
- Have a strong work ethic
- Value integrity above financial gain
- Respect the progress of my elders and use it to my advantage whenever possible
- Have a mixed stable of political views that don’t fit neatly into a party or sect
- Have made enough mistakes to be strongly influenced by the lessons I’ve learned
Ultimately my opinion on the generations – their stereotypical similarities, differences, pros and cons – is quite simple. I believe that year over year, decade over decade, people are fundamentally the same. We have essentially the same priorities and values, we have a lot of similar experiences to drive our behaviors and we have documented history of those before us. What has changed, in my opinion, is the landscape. Values and behaviors may be the same, they just look different.
When I think of the basic differences between Generations X and Y, I see it like so:
The world is a highway. Every person travels the same highway. Over time, the cars change, the speed limit is raised and the end destination is remodeled and expanded. But we’re all traveling the same road. As the speed limit goes up, new cars are rolled out. Young people like fast cars with bells and whistles, but many of their elders like them, too. We have experience that allows us to more readily see the dangers of driving at all and the benefits of upgrading our vehicles along the way. If we’re doing it right, we open our knowledge up to the younger drivers without forcing it on them. At the same time, they’re interested in what our experience can teach them and willing to show us some things that perhaps they saw first. But we’re all out there on the road together with same destination.
I think that many of the things GenerationX thinks about Millennials are the same things our Boomer predecessors thought about us. Those negative stereotypes about Millennials – that they are self-absorbed, entitled or impatient? I remember hearing the same rumblings from Boomers about me and my peers.
I also believe this will continue for generations to come. I believe this is part of our circle of life overall, and as one generation makes way for a new one it’s their rite of passage to opine on the new regime. Likewise, it’s characteristic of the up and comers to voice their thoughts, positive and negative, about their elders.
Today’s workforce, both traditional and nontraditional (remote work and the like) is largely populated by both GenerationX and Millennials. There’s a great deal of overlap. And for this reason, in spite of the fact that I believe we have much in common, I feel it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.
If we keep talking we can avoid false assumptions or missed opportunities to help each other. Let’s keep asking questions and working to understand each other.
We are better together.
This doesn’t mean we will always agree. It simply means we have far more to gain from keeping our doors and minds open than we do from walling ourselves off in the name of pride or allegiance to our peers in age.
Yes: I’m a Generation X woman with a Millennial Mindset. I hope both generations will accept me into your stereotypical ranks!
I’ll see you on the highway. I’ll be the one in the fast car with every safety feature and comfort upgrade you can imagine.
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Photo credit: THE MANIFESTO via photopin (license).
Christin Jones Kardos is the Community Manager for Social Business Hour (#SBizHour) . Beer & bacon analyst. Marines & bikers are my friends.
A.k.a. クリス /Chris/Tink.
“If we keep talking we can avoid false assumptions or missed
opportunities to help each other. Let’s keep asking questions and
working to understand each other”
Thank you for sharing those words Christin. I think the only answer is a dialogue in a safe space where all parties involved feel their opinions are valued and heard. I know that people have had bad inter-generational experiences, but the think tanks have been invaluable in showing us that the things we like/dislike are less generational and more about human nature in general.
Thanks so much, Susan! You hit on something key with “safe place.” Yes! You’re absolutely right about the Think Tanks, too. I love them.
Found it! Yes it was worth spending some time writing it. I’m also writing something on those lines.
I like how you introduce it. You have an opinion but still question it. For me, half of the so-called mindset is the Entrepreneurial Mindset. It has been around for thousand years already and takes its ground in obssessive curiosity and desire to grow. The other half is really the digital native part. As a geek I’ve been on social very early but I’m not a native and it’s not my life. My take is that other things will come, other experiences and what is overwhelming today will end up as a fad.
If you remain curious while driving on this highway you could spot a hithchiker waiting for lift or a biker, stopped on the side of the road, sipping a beer, and enjoying the heat and freedom. Look again it could be me.
Bruno, you always say the best things!! Thank you my friend. And you’re so right… we need to stay curious!
Great post Christin, I’m adding it to a Storify on Millennial Mindset. I agree, there are benefits to stereotypes if you are limited to them. As a transitional Gen Xer I think we may see that more than most and take the best of both generations. That fluidity is what makes up a winning mindset. :]
You have an age mindset not a cross generational mindset. So many of your characteristics are age related and not generational related (they are transitory).
Example take any point in time from 10000BC to today and pick a point. Any point. The 15-25 year olds will embrace change faster than people older than them. But when they are then older they will embrace change more slowly. So in the future GenY will be embracing change much more slowly. There is many reasons for this. But as you build things and invest blood sweat tears money time it is hard to give up something you built even if technology has passed you by (see Blockbuster).
Everything you listed was said about Gen X 20 years ago. And about Boomers 40 years ago, When I was 25 I hung out with older people now at 47 I hang out with younger people. That happened with Boomers and will happen with GenY. Due to age factors vs generational factors. Technology might change but humanity is still a bunch of animals reacting to sensory inputs from our surroundings. And getting old is not pleasant like when you are young and getting older is.
@HowieG67:disqus you are bringing memories of my developmental psychology courses. It is true, at different stages of our lives we undergo significant change in our perceptions and attitudes. This is something else to consider when we discuss these issues.