by Evelyn Pyburn

As much as everything changes, yet it remains the same.

There’s some kind of saying about that.

What it really speaks to, one has to suspect, is the re-discovery of the same truths, generation after generation. The past seems to be quickly forgotten and we fail so miserably at teaching history that each new generation comes to believe it is special in its ability to discover realities that no one else seems to have even noticed.

The cycle is itself nothing new, and it is something we should keep in mind as everyone seems to scuttle about acquiescing to the assertions, attitudes and ambiguities of “millennials” – or at least what many people are saying about millennials.  I can’t say that this has been my personal experience, but it must be somebody’s, given the blizzard of articles, press releases, expert opinions, and advice offered, that comes through my e-mail and other media every day.  It seems to be a big deal.

 Millennials will indeed change the world, just like generations of the past. Remember the Generation Xer’s? Or the baby boomers?

My thought is, just like young people of centuries past – “millennials” have a lot to learn – especially about business, if it is really true, that they think things will happen just by demanding it.

No matter what innovations and new ideas millennials bring, the one thing they will not change are the laws of economics and the basics of building a successful career or business.

Who could possibly have brought about greater change to the world than Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? Their strength was not in demanding for themselves but in producing for the market. If they started out not understanding markets, they learned it phenomenally well – better than most.

What may be different, today, is that the “adults” seem to have forgotten that it is their responsibility to teach the next generation.

Instead, we see “adults” wringing their hands in anxiety, concerned that the older generation will not be able to appease the demanding youngsters. If this is truly the prevailing sentiment, then it is no wonder these young observers have a distorted view of the world.

A few years ago at a large seminar about hiring and about employee/employer relationships, the presenter talked about “millennials,” saying that they had a sense of entitlement that employers would have to cater-to if they wanted to hire them. He then asked of the “millennials” in the room if they felt they were entitled. Without any qualms one young lady (only one) raised her hand and said most emphatically that she believed she was entitled.

There was no doubt that many “oldsters” in the room were a bit taken aback.  And, one had to think, they each were taking note of who she was to make sure they didn’t hire her.

She was obviously unaware that as a prospective employee, attitude is probably more important than any skill or smarts she might otherwise have. Hard lessons were certainly in store for her, and while there would be those who delivered those lessons, it had surely been the failing of many other “adults” in her short life, that had allowed her to develop such an unpalatable attitude.

If these young people have a sense that they are owed things simply because they exist, with no understanding of from whence those things must come, there is nothing really new about that, either – there have always been such people in our midst—and not just young ones.

In the past older generations were the ones who imparted lessons, with confidence that they had values to teach. Perhaps the “adults” have come to believe the same rhetoric being taught to students of public education, that our past is something about which we should be apologetic.

If there are people – young or old – who believe that they are entitled to things simply because they exist, they need someone to ask them who is obligated – by virtue of nothing more than having been born – to provide those things. As always, young people may need the wisdom and character of those more experienced and wiser to explain the true nature of demanding, through the use of force, the unearned.

While there is absolutely no doubt that from these young people there will come amazing ideas and innovations and improvements, the steadying hand of those who have gone before remains a value in forging good business practices, ethics, and market savvy, to bring those new age innovations to fruition. How sad it will be for the new generation and for the future of society if the “adults” falter in that very important role.