ElmGene 11-06-071

Generation iY

Our Last Chance to Save Their Future


Tim Elmore

Growing Leaders, Inc., 2010, 220 pp.  ISBN 978-0-578-06355-3



Dr. Tim Elmore is Founder and President of Growing Leaders, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization created to develop emerging leaders.  Generation iY is the younger Millennials, born after 1990.  They have grown up with ipods, iphones, and the internet, in a world that allows for high speed, constant connection, sedentary lifestyles, pitiful relational skills, and a large dose of narcissism. (15)  Elmore gives suggestions for guidance within each chapter.


2. Adjusting the Sails - A Closer Look at Generation iY

The point of the book is to illustrate the changes in young people and how we must adjust to help them.  "They need direction--mentors who engage them in a relevant way, channel their energy, and provide them with the challenges they need." (18)


A college survey reveals that many are overwhelmed with stress, some from pressures their parents put on them to succeed and others who had undue comfort and a lack of healthy pressure prior to college.  They are over connected with much noise, busyness, connection, talk, volume, and speed, but many are miserable in relationship skills, emotional intelligence, patience, listening, and conflict resolution.     


Many have been sheltered and overprotected and are unready for life in the real world.  Some overestimate their own importance and feel entitled to special treatment.  They can be narcissistic, me-centered, impatient, demanding, and short-tempered, having a poor work ethic and minimal long-term commitment.  They are activists and also slackers, wanting to change the world -- if it can be done quickly.  Waiting is very hard.


3. Aftershock - Responding to the Cultural Shift

The Jekyll-and-Hyde Generation of Paradox

  • Feel special and needed but can be spoiled and conceited
  • Own technology but expect easy, instant results
  • High on tolerance but lack absolute values
  • Catch on to new ideas quickly but struggle with long commitments
  • Adept at multitasking but difficulty focusing
  • Want to be the best but get depressed if they are not.  (35)


Raised as consumers, many have not become contributors.  At the same time they are happy to give away their time and money.  Because most of their relational contact comes through technology they are in danger of becoming isolated.  They like connecting without having to really connect.  It's hard to build real relationships in a virtual world.  They are ambitious but anxious.  Some have had too much external structure and are unable to practice independent reflection or coping or acting without consensus.  Some were raised in families where no one told them 'no' about anything and they feel entitled.  Everybody got a ribbon and they never had a chance to lose.  They are connected mostly with each other, get most of their guidance from their peers, and model themselves after others from their own generation.  But they don't know how to relate to other generations.   They are passionate about causes that are in fashion but they have short attention spans.  They are fuzzy, not focused.  When they get bored they quit. 


Technology has both accelerated and delayed their maturity.  They know a lot very young but they are not ready for real people, waiting, responsibility, and the real world.  Some descriptive words include artificial, homogenous, guaranteed, superficial, programmed, and narcissistic. (48)


How to get through to this group:

1. They want to belong before they believe.

2. They want an experience before an explanation.

3. They want a cause before they want a course.

4. They want a guide on the side before they want a sage on the stage.  

5. They want to play before they pay.

6. They want to use but not be used by others.

7. The want a transformation, not merely a touch.  (49-51)


"To connect with and influence Generation iY, we'll likely have to adjust to them…over and over again." (51) 


4. Tollbooth or Roadblock?  - Why iY Kids are Getting Stuck in Adolescence

"The years between eighteen and twenty-five have become a distinct life state--a strange, transitional 'no man's land' between adolescence and adulthood in which young people stall for a few extra years, putting off adult responsibility."  (54)  Guys seem unable to commit to marriages, families or long-term jobs.  They don't want to get tied down to an unsuitable job but to experiment with different careers.  Adulthood seems overwhelming.  The new doorway to adulthood is having your first child.  The median age is 27.  Twenty six is the new eighteen.  All the years of school have not prepared them for work-life. 


 Children mature in four areas: biological, cognitive, social, and emotional.  This generation of young people is advanced in the first three areas but backward emotionally.  They know too much too soon.  In the real world success is about 25% IQ and 75% EQ (emotional intelligence). 


"What an adolescent needs is an adult (parent, teacher, coach, employer, pastor, or leader) who makes appropriate demands and sets appropriate standards for them in a responsive environment of belief and concern.  In short, they need adults to display a balance of two elements--they need them to be both responsive and demanding." (66)  They need a balance of autonomy -- to act independently-- and responsibility -- to be accountable. 


Some suggestions:

  • Intentionally mix the generations.
  • Teach practical life skills
  • Provide opportunities for service.
  • Give opportunity to practice maturity.
  • Engage kids in actively helping others (not just voting on a web site).
  • Reward the development of real skills and actual accomplishments (not just showing up).
  • Set boundaries.
  • Develop rituals to mark rites of passage.  (69-70)


5. Lost in Neverland - The Special Challenges of iY Boys

Boys are falling behind.  One-third of young men ages 22 to 34 still live at home with their parents!  Some husbands veg with video games all evening.  There is a lack of male role models. 


Six reasons boys may be in trouble:  They are glued to the screen.  School teaching methods are inappropriate.  They are over medicated.  It's something in the plastic.  Parents hold on too tightly.  They are confused about what it means to be a man.  (79) 

6. Volcanoes and Karaoke - The Struggle of a New Generation of Parents

The butterfly must experience the struggle of breaking out of the cocoon.  We can disable our youth from maturing into adulthood by helping them too much.  Teachers say that "parents" are their number one headache. 


Eight damaging parental styles:

·   Helicopter parents hover over their kids insuring they have no difficulties and preventing them from learning to fail and to persevere.

·   Karaoke parents try to emulate the generation and be their buddies; they fail to earn their respect.

·   Dry-Cleaner parents drop them off for others to raise or fix them, failing to mentor their children.

·   Volcano parents erupt without warning all over the school authorities.

·   Dropout parents give up, maybe staying around or maybe pulling out, failing to provide a role model.

·   Bullied parents are beaten down, whipped by their kids, surrendering authority.

·   Groupie parents idolize their children, making 'stars' of their glorious offspring, lavishing everything on them and denying them nothing.

·   Commando parents focus on compliance and perfection rather than being satisfied with growth and improvement. 


7. Elephant Lessons - Amending the Lies We Have Told Generation iY

We have told them lies to help them feel good about themselves.  We have told them they can be anything they want to be, everything is their choice, they are outstanding, they can have it all now, they are winners (just for showing up), they can get anything they want, and so on.  "False beliefs are not a healthy way to produce a generation of upstanding adults." (121)


8. My Crystal Ball - Predictions for Generation iY in the Workplace

·   They want a top level job that fits their passion and they're willing to wait for the "right" job.  They may not be willing to work their way up.  They struggle with reality.  

·   Because of their capability with technology, they will probably challenge the way you do things and suggest out-of-the-box ideas.  Wise employers will be alert to fresh ideas.

·   There may be a lot of disappointment and even depression looming in the workplace.  This generation will need people to serve as a coach. 

·   Their parents may get involved in their work life. 

·   They will expect lots of changes and challenges and will find it difficult to endure, so flexibility will be a great help. 

·   They are looking for meaning as much as money and will want to see how their effort benefits a worthwhile cause. 

·   They will expect reward quickly and frequently.  They need constant and instant feedback because they have often been praised and rarely criticized.  So work at the relationship and provide as much feedback as possible.

·   They expect both influence and affluence.  They expect a large salary quickly. 


"If you hope to be relevant to the world around you, you'll need to invite Generation iY to work on your mission with you.  They will likely appear at your front door looking much like a 'free agent.'" (137)  "They fully expect to dictate some of the terms of their working conditions, and they may quit if they don't get what they want."  (Since they are living with their parents, they can afford to.)  "The key to attracting the best among them and keeping them as employees is to create an environment that is familiar and intriguing."  (140) 


9. The Hinge of History - What We Can Expect from Generation iY Worldwide


10.  A Compass, Not a Map - Helping Generation iY find Their Future

How do we steer Generation iY back on course?  "The best first step is to enable them to discover their vocation--to recognize their passions and strengths and use them to engage the world around them." (157)  Challenge them to seize the opportunities to make a contribution.  Focus on purpose.  Ignite them with a vision for their future.  Challenge them to solve a problem and make a difference.  It's about a mission.  Help them think through five critical decisions:

1.    What are my values?  Values keep a person on course as they pursue a vision.  Note that there are virtually no absolute values and often internal inconsistencies in their values.  Many don't trust business leaders but they think it's ok to cheat on their taxes. 

2.   What vision do I want to pursue?  

3.    What is my strength - combination of talents, gifts, knowledge, and skills?

4.   What is the best venue for me?

5.    What vehicles will help me reach my goal? 


11.  The Care and Feeding of a New Generation - EPIC Ideas for Educating iY Students

How do we gain an audience and become relevant with this generation?  Use the acronym EPIC.

·   Experiential.  Communication must include multiple senses.  Memorable experiences get through.

·   Participatory.  They want to express themselves and learn through dialogue.  They support what they help create.

·   Image-rich.  This is a visual generation.

·   Connected.  They want to learn together, not alone, to be connected to technology and one another.


Traditional teaching cannot compete.  Right brain stimulation is needed in the conceptual age.  "In other words, the future will increasingly reward what we commonly think of as 'right brain' thinking.  And iY kids thrive on this kind of thinking.  They are nonlinear.  They prize relationships.  They love to make connections between people and ideas and to get their hands on what they're learning about.  They thrive on pictures and stories, and their eyes glaze over when requested to just sit still and read or listen." "More and more our world is driven by right-brain thought: imagination, story, music." (177)  Communicators must begin where the audience lives. 


12.  Save The Future - Unleashing Their Leadership Potential

In Generation iY: Leadership is leveraging my influence for a worthwhile cause." (191)