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7 Misunderstandings Younger Generations Have about Older Generations – Ron Edmondson


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I can now consider myself part of an older generation. I’m not “old” yet – at least in my opinion, but I’m older. Old enough to know there are some misunderstandings younger generations have about older generations.

Occasionally a young person in our church will ask for some of my time to talk through some life issue – usually involving a career decision. Often they are so apologetic for “taking my time”. What they don’t understand is how much these conversations fuel me for everything else I do. I can’t do it all the time, but I love when I can.

Those type encounters cause me to reflect on misunderstandings I’ve observed from younger generations about my generation. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

7 misunderstandings younger generations have about older generations:

We enjoy helping you.

Your inquisitive nature is not a burden to us. We don’t consider your questions to be dumb. We realize we all have to learn somewhere. There is no higher compliment than to be asked for wisdom – or seen as knowing something worthy of your attention towards us.

Investing in a younger generation is one of my favorite parts of leadership.

We wish we had asked more questions when we were your age.

Younger generations are inquisitive. You want to know. In fact, you can Google most of your answers – and have been able to all your life. We admire your desire for answers and often wish we had learned to ask questions earlier. Instead, we learned too many things the hard way – by experience.

While experience is a great teacher, we might have avoided some painful experiences if we had asked for more help.

We don’t think we know it all.

At least most of us don’t. And we are okay with it. Actually, the truth is more opposite of that. Frankly, the older we get the more we realize what we don’t know. That doesn’t frustrate us as much as it did when we were younger.

We don’t always understand your impatience.

Seriously, sometimes we don’t. We look at your life and you seem to be doing okay. So, when you are frustrated you don’t have everything yet – or aren’t where you want to be in your career – we don’t always “get it”. Yet, we know we were probably impatient in our younger years. There was more of a sense of “work your way up” in our generation, but we often saw unfairness in who got to move up and how.

We often understand what you’re feeling more than you think we do.

You think because we are older, and aren’t experiencing some of the issues you’re experiencing, we don’t understand the frustrations you face. It is a new day and the world is much different.

But the things you experience today are some of the same issues we experienced – just without the texting or social media sharing possibilities for them. We struggled (and mostly still do) in relationships, careers, with our parents, trying to find our place, fears about our future – all of those things.

We have a different perspective, but we aren’t as different as you think.

We see life from a different viewpoint. We are further along in life. We have more experiences – more laughs, more heartaches, more disappointments, more failures – and all of this makes us see the world a little differently.

Yet, we aren’t as different as you might think. We have the same desires you have – for mutual respect, trusted relationships, workplace fairness and opportunity. We may disagree on how to get there, but we want the world to be a better place as you do.

We aren’t as crazy about all the tech advances – when it comes to real relationships.

Sure, we love the new gadgets – and appreciate you for helping us learn them, but we prefer real conversations with people too. Sure, we’ve taken advantage of the ease of social media to keep up with loved ones. We ARE Facebook these days. We can be guilty of emailing instead of walking down to your office. We fall into the trap of overworking and under-relating to people in our life.

But, just like you, we value genuine relationships. We even like “hanging out” sometimes. Hanging out with your generation are some of our favorite times.

Those are a few misunderstandings I’ve observed. Got any to add?

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss issues of leadership in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

Used with permission from Ron Edmondson.

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