Great piece, Margo Aaron. I agree that this whole conversation is a perspective issue. Changing perspective like understanding who was demanding the participation trophies in youth sports (parents) helps everyone understand each other better. In fact, I had two quick thoughts that I haven’t been able to shake since finishing your post.
First, I think it’s unfortunate but a reality that all groups seem defined by their worst or loudest members (Republicans, lawyers, Yankee fans). Accepting that reality but using as an advantage is the best form of reaction. If society uses sweeping generalizations and old rules to define behavior or value, redefine it. Surprise people. Create your own narrative. Hopefully one way millennials will change the world is challenging the old assumptions that still drag us down.
Second, you mentioned the deshelved/hurried, exhausted and stressful employee getting the A+ because that’s what we think productivity looks like. I’ve often said it should be viewed like a marathon. If you stand at the finish line and someone is coughing, wheezing and crawling over the finish line we like to celebrate their courage, but the runner that trained diligently for weeks and week, ate the proper diet and finished smoothly is considered “lucky” or “showing off.” We “hate” them. We substitute effort for true preparation when measuring value/success. We need to stop. I’d rather be properly trained and finishing quietly (and know it was a win even if everyone else doesn’t notice) than the sputtering mess that occasionally get all the attention for their commitment. My advice to millennials is to commit to the preparation and make the actual competition appear easy. It’s much more rewarding and will pay off long term.