Friday, February 24, 2017

5 Reasons You Should Reconsider Your View Of Millennials

I'm 44 years old.  I'm a solid Gen-X-er.  Now that the Baby Boomers are retiring in droves,  my fellow Gen-Ex-ers and I are taking firm hold of the power structure in our nation.  It's true in businesses.  It's true in politics.  And it's true in the church.   Now that the platform for my generation is growing, I'm hearing an awful lot of complaining about the Millennial Generation.  You know, millennials, those born roughly between 1982 -2000, depending on which researcher you choose to cite.  That means they are somewhere between 17 and 35 years old.  If we split the difference, we're talking about a person who's about 26 years old.  

But, I'm not writing to just define an age-group.  Rather, I'm writing to pose a question to my fellow Gen-X-ers and the Baby Boomers ahead of us.  The question is, why are these twenty-somethings getting so much grief from us?  Honestly, I think I see an article every other day about how entitled and lazy and irresponsible this generation is.  And the worst part is that it's my friends and colleagues writing and sharing this all over the internet!  At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, I would like to say to my friends and colleagues who are doing this, respectfully, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.  If you have jumped on the anti-millennial bandwagon,  I want to offer you five reasons you should jump off ASAP.  

  1. They're kids.  So was I.  So were you.  I can't speak for you, but when I was 26, I was an idiot.  I didn't know squat, but I thought I knew it all.  Thank God for people in their 40's and 50's who took me under their wing to show me better ways to live.  Thank God they didn't write me off.  Neither should we write off a generation.  They need us to take them under our wings and show them better ways.
  2. Not all of them are idiot kids.  Many are light years ahead of where we were at their age.  I want to brag on a millennial friend and colleague of mine.  Mitch Little is a 22-year-old associate student pastor at Solace Church and the guy is literally years and years ahead of where I was when I was his age.  My sons look up to him and I trust him completely with the influence he has with them.  Sure, he may not know some of what I know now, but I'm twice his age.  By the time he's my age, I can only imagine how far he will have gone.  Mitch is an exceptional man, but he is not the exception to his generation.  There are plenty of Mitch Littles in this millennial generation.
  3. You're vilifying an entire generation.  I know you've had bad experiences with millennials, maybe especially in the workforce.  I have too.   But is this the only generation you've had a bad experience with?  The whole truth is, we could vilify any other generation in history if we chose to focus only on their negative traits.  Why are we choosing to cast a negative light on an entire generation because of some bad experiences we've had with some individuals in that age-range?  That reflects much more poorly on us than it does on them.
  4. They're your kids, so it's your fault.  Let's do some math.  If someone is 26, that means their parents are anywhere from their mid-forties to late-fifties (roughly).  Those are the exact people I see doing the bulk of the complaining.  Hey, if they are our kids, and they are exhibiting poor character traits and a poor work ethic, who does that reflect on most?  Maybe we should have skipped some of those "everybody plays, everybody wins" sports leagues.  
  5. They will be handed the keys, regardless of what you think about them.  More math. We're going to be retiring and dying before they do.  If they will be holding the responsibility and authority of our nation in the future anyway, doesn't it make sense that we should dispense with the complaining and lean into the mentoring?  
So, where does that leave us, who are in our 40's, 50's and beyond?  I think it positions us with both a great responsibility and a great opportunity.  Sure, generation gaps are real.  But contrary to what we want to tell ourselves, they are generally created and almost always precipitated by older generations who want to dismiss the younger who are simply exploring their own identity just like we did!  The Baby Boomers said Gen-X were a bunch of negative cynics.  Gen-X says Millennials are a bunch of entitled sloths.  Is any of that helpful?  Of course not.  But beyond that, I would argue that, by and large, it's also untrue. 

If you've read this far, congratulations.  If you're offended by this, I'm sorry.  If you disagree, I'd love to hear why.  It's very possible I'm missing a facet of the reality.  If you agree, please share this post. Whatever your stance, the millennial generation is here to stay and they will assume more authority and responsibility, as time goes on.  How we work to mentor, challenge and build them up between now and then is completely up to us and vital to our future and theirs.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Science of Goals - Part 2 - Why Failure is a Win

We began this 2-part series last week and today we finish up our conversation about the Science of Goals.  We know that not everyone sets goals, but even of those who do, most go about it in a self-defeating sort of way.  This series is about you understanding the science of goals and structuring and measuring your goals in a way that helps you gain confidence and grow.  So, if you're feeling disappointed or stuck, this post and last week's are for you.  Last week, we talked about setting up a "win-cycle" for your goals.  This week, let's talk about how we measure the success of our goals.  Initially, you may not believe this, but completing a "failing" % of your goals this year will actually be a BIG win for you.  Let's look at how this works.

This is a quick case study of my own goals from 2016.  When we were near the end of last year, I sat down and recorded what % of my goals I accomplished.  That year, I had six areas I was measuring goals in.  It's probably too many.  For 2017, I consolidated my goals to 3 areas.  However, for clarity, I listed the six main areas and what % I reached on those goals. You can see them below.  Overall, it doesn't look too impressive.  

2016 Goal Performance:
- Faith - 37%
- Health - 36%
- Family - 34%
- Finance - 7%
- Vision - 90%
- Work - 74%

If you average all these, I accomplished about 47% of my 2016 goals.  Sounds even worse, right?  But, allow yourself to think about this differently for a minute.  The reason we are all trained to think 47% is poor is because we filter it through our formalized education system.  We all spent years in school and we all know that 47% is an F - it's a failure!  So, we reason, completing 47% of my goals is also a failure. But, nothing could be further from the truth!

Here's why.  In school, you learn and test to meet a standard.  If you're a kid in 9th grade, there are 9th grade standards and you strive to meet 100% of the standards. I'm not saying that's a good system, but it is the system our culture uses.  When we fall below 100%, we're that far below the standard.  We say (roughly) 90-100% is excellent, 80-89% is good, 70-79% is average . . . you get the picture. In this system, 47% is way below the standard and given a failing grade.  

But goals are completely different than standardized education.  While standardized education says, "this is the standard and you must meet it", goal setting says, "here's where you are and here's where you could be."  Goals are not about meeting standards. Goals about improving and growing. 

So, let's talk about my abysmal 47% performance in 2016.  Can I tell you what my 2016 experience was?  It was, by far, the biggest year of growth I've ever seen.  Wait, what?  Only 47% of my goals accomplished and I saw huge growth?  How can this be? Remember the nature of goals.  Goals are about improving and growing, not meeting standards.  So, if you or I measure goals like we're in school meeting standards, we're going to fool ourselves into thinking we failed when we really won big!

Would it be great to accomplish 100% of your goals?  Sure.  But is it necessary?  No.  Even if you accomplish 10% of your goals, you've seen a 10% improvement in some area of your life.  Who would call that failure?  Not I.  Neither should you.  When it comes to goals, even "failure" is a win.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Leave a comment and start a conversation about it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Science of Goals - Part 1 - The Win-Cycle

It's February.  Know what that means?  Depending on what part of the country you live in, it may mean different things.  Here in Oklahoma, we're looking at an 85-degree Saturday.  My sister-in-law, who lives in Massachusettes is under a foot of snow that fell yesterday.  But, weather aside, one universal truth about February is that most of us have begun trailing off from the goals we set to begin the year.  You may have called them goals.  You may have called them resolutions.  Whatever the name you used, you had high hopes for some big changes this year.  If you're feeling disappointed or stuck on your goals, this post and next week's are for you.

Today let's talk about creating a win-cycle with your goals.  I'll use a football analogy to illustrate.  Every football team has a starting quarterback and they have at least one backup.  When the starter gets hurt and the backup has to come in cold and unexpectedly, what do the announcers inevitably talk about and what do most offensive coordinators do? They create a win-cycle for that backup quarterback.  They may not call it that, but here's what it looks like.  They will, intentionally, call plays for the backup that are easy to have success with - quick hand-off, a screen pass or a short quick pass.  Do they call these plays because they think they'll score?  No.  They call them so the new guy can run a few successful plays, get some "wins" under his belt and play the rest of the game with confidence.

You should approach your goals the same way, especially if you're not accustomed to setting and achieving them.  I'll use the easy example of weight loss because that seems to be on almost everyone's list.  You can list the same goal two ways.  One way is, "I'll lose 25 pounds in 2017."  It's a good goal.  It's attainable.  It's measurable.  It meets all the criteria.  But, what does it do to your psyche when it's February 10 and you've lost 2 or 3 pounds?  It feels like you've been at it forever and you're only 8-12% to your goal. It doesn't feel like you're winning and you lose motivation fast.  What if you stated and measured the goal differently?  What if you said, "I'll lose 2 pounds per month for all of 2017"?  It's the same goal (within a pound), but this way, being down 2-3 pounds Feb 10 has you right on track.  The win cycle can be measured every month - even every week - instead of just at the end of the year. In the first scenario, your confidence takes a dive 6-8 weeks into it. In the second scenario, your confidence grows as long as you're making slow and steady progress.

I was coaching with a client about a month ago and I introduced this idea of the win-cycle to him.  He was able to break his big goals down into smaller pieces.  I could see the light come on in his eyes when he realized he could build up or tear down his own confidence, seeing the very same results.  The only difference is how he declared and measured the goals.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  How do you accomplish big goals?  One bite at a time.  Let me encourage you, today, to revisit those goals.  Don't give up on them.  Re-engineer them so you experience a regular win cycle.  

I hope this is helpful and encouraging to you today.  Next week I will tell you why it's a big WIN for you to accomplish a relatively low % of your goals.  I'm looking forward to sharing this with you!  In the meantime, please share with me how you've re-written your goals to create a win-cycle for yourself!

You Can't Fix Stupid . . . Or Can You?

They say, "You can't fix stupid." and we all laugh.  We all know these people who seem to be stuck in the same stupid pattern of behavior.  Seems like they are related to us, more often than not.  Or maybe they live in our own mirror.  That hurts, huh? 

But, wait a minute.  Why do we say "You can't fix stupid"?  Isn't stupid purely based on the choices the "stupid person" makes?  If that's true, isn't it quite possible to "fix stupid" by changing the stupid decisions to sensible ones?  You might think I'm over-simplifying this. You might think this is an "easier said than done" kind of situation.  If so, read this first and then come back.  

I believe the real truth is that you can fix stupid.  I believe it's really simple and really hard. I also believe it's more important than we think.  

Here are 2 BIG reasons we have to fix stupid . . . 
  1. We give up on others too easily.  I'm so guilty of this.  When I take one of those spiritual gifts tests, mercy is way on the low end.  I'm tough on other people.  Sometimes that's just what they need.  But sometimes they just need me to spend a lot of time, patience and energy to walk with them through something that looks super easy to me and feels super hard to them.  Do you do this too?  You say, "Just stop spending money you don't have."  They say, "It's all I've ever known and I do it because I feel guilty about ten other things I've failed at in my life."  You say, "Just eat healthier and get some exercise and you'll lose the weight."  They say, "You have no idea how hard this is for me."  We're wrong.  They're right.  It looks so much easier to us than they know it is for them.  Patience and love are what they need.
  2. We give up on ourselves too easily.  When I was 12 years old, I hit puberty.  In less than a year I went from wearing size 12 slim jeans to men's size 30.  I went from a skinny 11-year-old who could eat whatever I wanted without a thought, to a pudgy 12-year-old who gained weight with every bite of food.  That was thirty-two years ago and the struggle has been very real every day since then.  A few years ago I got connected to some great people who helped me learn some real skills and a plan for my personal fitness, but before that, I was up and down all the time.  I vividly recall, during a few of my down times (up in weight, down emotionally) when I just gave up.  I said to myself, "I'm just going to be fat.  If people don't like that, it's their problem."  But it wasn't their problem.  It was mine. I knew I didn't want to be fat, so that was never a real option for me.  The point is, I know that temptation to just give up on myself.  So do you.  There are two HUGE problems with giving up on yourself, though. One is that this world needs you and what you have to offer.  Two is that when you give up on yourself, you'll give up on others too. Patience and love are what we need. 
We have to face the truth that stupid is usually driven by pain.  Are there instances where people are just not interested in change and have given up on themselves?  Sure.  And there's nothing you can really do for them when they're in that mindset.  But that doesn't mean you have to write them off forever.  Are there "stupid" mindsets you're stuck in?  Sure.  That doesn't mean you have to write yourself off either.  Patience and love.  Those are the orders of the day.  For others and for ourselves.  

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Mantra of Losers

I write about self-leadership.  I'm passionate about people leading themselves better, so most of my writing holds some sort of challenge to change.  "Easier said than done."  This is a response I get a lot and it leaves me scratching my head.  

Well . . . yeah.  Of course, it's easier said than done.  What isn't?  Since when did adults shy away from the pain of change?  Since when is it not worth it?  It may be time to grow up.  Easier said than done.  It's the mantra of losers.