So Ya Wanna Change The World, Huh? Been There, Done That… Although Likely Not to Your Expectations.

Recently I’ve been exploring a number of blogs with authors who feel compelled to express their viewpoints on being struggling GenY’ers in a world of aging… well, gotta be Boomers and GenX’ers, I suppose.  I truly find their views interesting and I have commented on some of their posts.  I suppose I should explain a little to any of my non-informed readers… Boomers, like me, were born from 1946 through 1964.  GenX’ers are those born between 1964 to 1981/82.  GenY’ers, sometimes called “echo boomers” (children of baby boomers) or Millennials, cover the dates between the 1980’s through 2000.  It’s the GenY’ers that are entering the workplace, armed with their new degrees and loaded for bear.

What I have found interesting in reading their posts is that it’s much like reading the ‘posts’ of my own boomer generation coming of age… if we had a vehicle to make posts back then.  These GenY’ers are defiant; they see the need for change and they want to change the world.  They want the leaders and managers to listen to them and accept change as change is for the better; that there are outmoded systems based on outdated processes; that things need changing because doing things the old way is not efficient or relevent anymore.  GenY’ers are a voice for change; making better a world that has gone to hell.  A better way to save the environment, a better way to conduct politics, stop all wars, and stop hating your neighbor.

Well, gee.. that’s what us Boomers demanded of those Depression Era kids (our parents) who were running the world back then.  When we weren’t indulging in sex, drugs, and rock & roll we were busy not trusting anyone over 30 and  freeing ourselves from societal restrictions.  We were hugely political as a group and very anti-war; the old people in charge just didn’t know how to run a world correctly.  Peace, baby.  We were anti-authoritian yet non-violent.  All this carried into the workplace as well.  As us Boomers completed college and our numbers entered the workplace like a rising tsunami the older folks knew the end was near.

So what happened to all that grandiose change we wanted to make?  Some changes were made, most culturally, but in our everyday lives we did carry with each of us the spirit of our generation in our approach to… reality; the workplace, politics, daily living.  Some might say we became that which we hated.  But actually it was more that we adapted to survive to keep the status quo.  We realized that it’s more difficult to change things simply for the sake of change when so much is linked together.  There’s cause and effect to everything in life.  Compromise is the rule in a world of human variety.  All we could do is pick our battles and win them where we could.  Winning the entire war is not the objective because there is no winning.

The difference between us Boomers and GenY’ers is that we beat you GenY’ers in sheer numbers hence our generation affected a lot of cultural change and achieved a lot of social momentum.  Between us and the GenX’ers, there were a lot of workplace changes as a result of mass computerization, way before PC’s and the Internet entered the picture.  IT departments sprang up that became their own domains and kingdoms thusly helping to change workplace philosophies and culture.  Whole new ways of doing business evolved.. and the older folks had to lead, follow, or get out of the way.  Attrition ultimately took it’s toll of the older folks and soon us Boomers were running the world.

While GenY’ers do not have the numbers to change social culture they are indeed the up and coming generation to take the reigns as us Boomers are being evicted, just as we evicted our parents’ generation.  So perhaps our Boomer legacy to the younger ones arriving on the scene might be a few pointers to help you all focus your energies properly.

1.  Don’t focus on changing the world.  It will change, or not, in spite of what you try and do.  If things need changing then attempt to change what is around you; start small and whittle your way to the top.  You will have greater success.

2.  Humans are diverse by nature and you will never change that.  Understand human nature and use that to understand the use of compromise.

3.  Never loose your desire to want better; never loose your dreams for the future.  Be as idealistic as you can.  It helped our generation in creating what we’ve passed on to you… and it will provide the impetus for you to try and change the things we did not change or could not change.  Hope springs eternal.

4.  Keep alive the hope for world peace.  We hated the war in our generation yet our generation created a war in your generation… which you will also hate.  Right or wrong, war is the nature of mankind simply because our species is diverse.  You will never be able to stop having them.  But keep alive the hope that one day they will stop… and pass that hope on to the generation that follows you in the next 20 years.

Our War

Your War

Check out my Blog Roll to the right for some great GenY’er blogs.

A peace symbol, originally designed by the Bri...

The Boomer Generation's symbol of hope.


5 thoughts on “So Ya Wanna Change The World, Huh? Been There, Done That… Although Likely Not to Your Expectations.

  1. Doug,

    GREAT POST. Like really, this is great work. Thanks for the advice, it’s been duly noted. I’ve heard over and over again how the generations are not all that different. That some of us GenX GenY GenWHATEVER believe in the same principles, believe in the need for change. But that for some reason, as you express in this post, the previous generations conformed, compromised, in order to survive. I don’t deny that compromise is essential. But I think that we need more encouragement. We don’t need people telling us that our efforts will be wasted and I think that too many older generation workers articulate this message to GenY. Rather than being pessimistic, give us advice, as you have above. I think that together, we can certainly make an impact.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. If I may venture an opinion… not all work environments are like the couple you might’ve experienced to date so keep up the hope that there are many encouraging workplaces out there. If you work in a land of naysayers it’s very likely there’s a level of envy or a company culture that’s lost sight of itself and this has permeated down the ranks. If you refuse to sink to their level and you can’t affect change.. then sometimes it’s best to move on. Each step is a new opportunity.

  3. “Compromise is the rule in a world of human variety.”

    My favorite line.

    Can baby boomers passion for change be re-ignited? Or is it simply the province of the naive?

    • Superb question. Perhaps it’s more a matter of Boomers passing the torch before our flame is extinguished, and lighting the flame of the next generation to follow… not because our desire for change has diminished but rather because our age prevents us from pursuing change with the same vigor. We see our future not as participants of the changes we make for a better life but rather as caretakers of what we have done for those that follow us. Metaphors galore.. but you get the idea. One day GenY’ers will be ready for retirement.. and the beat goes on.

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