Thu 12 Jan 2006
Meet Stuart — he’s a twenty-something from the Netherlands who has relocated to Saba. Stuart is a true Nexter — otherwise known as Generation Next, Generation Y, Millenials and Neters. They are born between 1980 and 2000 and have no recollection of the Reagan era or the Cold War. Technology has always been part of their lives, which has changed their thinking & learning styles. There are over 81 million Nexters — more than Baby Boomers — and they represent 30% of the current population. Watch for changes in the work environment as the Nexters enter the workforce. They could bring a new age of idealism and commitment into the workforce, if companies and society embraces their uniqueness. (Source: Generational Diversity – the Nexters)
Go Your Own Way
So what is this uniqueness? This idealism? I got to see it first hand in speaking with Stuart. What impressed me about Stuart is that many of his beliefs about life and living your dreams took me an additional decade of a stressful career to come up with. Stuart dropped out of college after his third year because he realized that he was being taught to think “in one way.” In essence, he felt that he was being taught how to be “safe and secure.” He felt like he was losing the essence of what made him unique — his ability to think for himself and follow his own path.
Stuart ended up in Saba and loved it — the ocean breezes, the island time, the laid-back lifestyle, the friendly people. This was for him, so he moved here and took a job as a dishwasher. When you meet Stuart, you notice a healthy radiance and exuberance for life. Looking at Stuart, one is reminded about the hopes and dreams of our twenties — before corporate jobs and stress and lack of sleep. Before trading your dreams for the “safety and security” of health insurance and a regular paycheck.
You Get What You Give
In fact, Stuart had a lot to say about his philosophy on life — he wanted to go with the flow and he believes that what you put out there, you get back. He believes in the power of his mind to create his health and his reality. Hmmm, isn’t this what I’ve been working on with my corporate clients? Yes! These are some of the principles that have helped my clients make big changes in their lives, from weight loss to promotions to feeling much healthier & happier.
Yikes – No Safety Net?
I am fascinated about the comfort with risk that Stuart has — whatever happens will happen and it will all be okay. And he’s right. I’m also fascinated about the different paths that Stuart and I took to get to this philosophy on life. I wore a suit and traded my true dreams for the corporate world for a while — and I’m grateful that I did for many reasons. I learned how to be successful in the corporate world — and I learned that I have the courage to take a risk on myself and leave my “safe job” to start my own successful business. But I have a safety net — I saved money. Stuart has no safety net — he’s walking the tightrope with nothing but trust that the universe will take care of him. And again, he’s right. Although his way, I must admit is scarier to me.
Birkenstocks or Flip Flops?
Recently, Joel was reminded that his dream in college was to have a job where he could wear Birkenstocks every day (say what you will about his fashion choice!). After learning that Stuart was happy because he could wear flip flops every day, Joel dubbed him the “flip flop philosopher.”
Joel and I have met other Nexters who are making choices like taking a year off in their twenties to enjoy life. Wow! They are recognizing burnout in their twenties — not because they aren’t hard workers, but because they value their time and their health. Many Nexters are seeing what accumulated stress does to the body. Don’t forget — they can see what the Boomers did — they can see the results of working long hours and losing pension plans, losing jobs and deteriorating health for those who didn’t pay attention to stress. They want more — they want time with families and flexible schedules. Even Nexters in the corporate world will shake up values and beliefs a bit. It’s not about loyalty — remember that loyalty is earned. It’s about what they’ve seen — the patterns. They want to love their lives, which will challenge companies to keep the Nexters that are valued assets.
Maybe there will be some flip flop philosophers in suits or business casual dress among you as well. It might be interesting to see what we can learn from the idealistic, hopeful Nexters as they enter the workforce and make their unique contributions as adults.