We often have many things we have done for years in business, at home, or at school. Some of those things we have done are tradition, and some are just because. On the family farm, at home, or at work, we have processes and procedures we do daily to accomplish our daily goals and tasks to keep things moving forward. I always say that we must humbly ask ourselves “why” we are doing any certain process or procedure, and if we can’t answer the “why”, with an answer beyond, “just because”, we need to be thinking about doing it a different way or not at all and looking at what else we could be doing.
The other key reason we need to be asking ourselves “why”, is because the largest generation in the workforce, the millennials, is asking this to themselves daily on most everything they do. Did you know they are the largest generation in the workforce? The millennials make up more than 35% of the current entire US workforce. And we as X’ers and Boomer’s must work hard to understand this and begin to ask ourselves “why” we do every different daily procedure or process.
On the flip side, I see, interact with, mentor, and consult a number of millennial leaders in the workforce, and have learned that the most successful millennial leaders have learned to show respect to the veterans under their leadership for what has been done and accomplished in the past. The most simple way to gain their respect is the exact same way as my post from last week. It is simply by asking “what do you think?” The X’ers and Boomers in the workforce have been at it for over 20-50 years and they hold tremendous experience, expertise, wisdom, and gut instinct built up from many personal tragedies, professional and personal failures, and all the days in between. They have done or seen businesses fail, businesses succeed, weather challenge extremes you have yet to see, loved ones die, divorces occur, friends and family make great choices and some make stupid choices, decades of advancement in technology, science, engineering, and agriculture, stock market runs and stock market crashes, Presidents and Governors come and go, tax laws change, legislative effects, Vietnam, Bay of Pigs, Gulf War, War in the Middle East, and much much more. Some of these people have been in the workforce for well over 60 years, and I have the distinct pleasure of interacting with some of these very bright minds, and it is our job to mine them. They hold so much wisdom! They may look old, but those are wrinkles of growth, eyes that have seen the man land on the moon, ears that heard John F Kennedy say “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country, hands that may have built the most spectacular engineering feats of the day, bodies that have endured more pain than we will ever experience, and brilliant minds nourished by the daily experiences and learnings from decades of simply just living.
For millennials, the key take away is to work on humbly asking these generations “what do you think?” If you humbly do this, you not only gain knowledge from someone who wants to help you avoid their mistakes, but you also will start to cultivate a relationship with someone who may begin to be your biggest fan. Moving on about your decision without their input and wisdom shows them no respect for their over 20-50 years worth of experience, and they may not want to immediately “jump on board” with your plan. In fact, as I have seen, they may even resist you and your plan. All generations of leaders need millennials on board, but millennials need the veterans on board for their optimal success. Without the veterans, you likely won't achieve your innermost greatest potential version of you for those under your precious leadership!