EXPECTATIONS are funny things. They drive our own sense of highs and lows. They determine how we’ll be assessed against colleagues. They are the determinant of whether or not a vacation, a new job, LIFE is good. And they are the measuring stick against which others see us.
My daughter attended a small liberal arts college – Marymount Manhattan College – in New York City. One day, I received this text message at work: “Macy’s is having this big sale on shoes. A girl got these boots for 15. Should I go to my psych class or to Macy’s?” To which I responded “YOLO.” She replied, “Is that serious? And do you even know what that means?” Of course I knew what it meant! But “YOLO” sure wasn’t the way she expected me to reply. She expected me to be the responsible mother. She forgot about the part of me that has encouraged taking educated risks, the part of me that believes experience is the best teacher, the part of me that doesn’t always think the way you would expect a baby boomer generation mom to think.
I am not my generation. I can’t be defined by my age group. And neither can you. Neither can the people who work with you. Neither can the guy or the girl with all the piercings and tattoos. Or the executive in the business suit.
When we put people in boxes that meet our expectations about who or what they should be, we miss the opportunities.
All this talk about Millennials and five generations in the workplace – these are useful discussions to raise awareness about differences that workplaces should take into consideration. What we really need to see are the individuals, not the box we have assigned to each. There’s a whole lot of differences in every box.
I am not my generation. I can’t be defined by what and who the world thinks of the baby boomers. I – like you – am a surprise every single day. Don’t box me in.