“Millennials are entitled.” I hear that statement all the time. After making a statement like that, most people back it up by calling us the “Participation Trophy Generation.” These trophies, allegedly, now make us believe we deserve things we did not earn.
After giving this topic some thought, I saw this tweet the other day, and it may be my favorite tweet of all time:
We didn’t ask to be given participation trophies. Regardless, I believe participation trophies had the exact opposite effect than creating entitlement. By constantly getting a taste of what it feels like to achieve while growing up, it made millennials hungry to have anything we want in this life. I truly believe I’m growing up in the most competitive generation in the world. Most people my age want more than we have right now; we’re not settling for the status quo of the past.
Participation trophies didn’t instill a sense of entitlement; they instilled a burning desire, and belief that we can have what we want. A lot of millennials are working hard to achieve what we desire. That work doesn’t end at 5pm or 6pm. It’s an all-consuming lifestyle.
My mindset has always been, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” I never want to be outworked, and I compete with everyone else to always be the hardest worker in the room. Put me up against anyone from any generation, and I promise I am going to compete; I can also promise they’re going to have a hard time putting in more work than me.
Entitlement is defined as “Believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” Do I believe I’m special? Yes, absolutely. I was raised to believe I’m a one of a kind, capable of having and doing anything I want. The difference is, I’m willing to put in massive amounts of work, and I do.
I know it must be odd for older generations to see a millennial come into your organization at 22-23 and immediately have the desire to be the CEO. But in a lot of cases, that’s not entitlement, it’s ambition. I think if given the chance, millennials can surprise you by matching that ambition with the hard work and action we’re willing to take.