Gen Y’s Audacity of Hope

In July of 2009, Tammy Tsang, Founder of My Loud Speaker, and I were discussing an interesting topic: the experience of the Gen Y’s who at that point were just starting to leave university and enter the white collar workforce.

We are now 3 years further along and this topic is still getting a lot of attention.  By way of example, Tammy is also the Executive Director of XYBOOM, a conference that “raises awareness about the importance of intergenerational dialogue and collaboration in the context of youth unemployment and the baby boomer exit”.  Here is a XYBOOM Conference 2012 commercial (video) for the inaugeral conference held on January 20th, 2012.

My July 2009 response to a post on Tammy’s blog may have collected 3 years worth of digital dust, however, when I stumbled on it today, I found the ideas were still indicative of my current thinking.  So, for your perusal, here it is…

It’s certainly an interesting topic, Tammy. 

I think that one consequence often missed during discussions in this area is ‘lost opportunity’.  Many ambitious NewGens do have audacious hopes and dreams, as you pointed out.  These hopes and dreams represent an enormous reservoir of untapped potential energy and talent.

It’s unfortunate that the cultures of so many organizations are extremely efficient at crushing the spirit of those with the ‘audacity of hope’.  We often hear, “don’t try to motivate people, focus on what already motivates them.”  Perhaps there is some relation between people’s hopes and dreams and their motivation…  perhaps at least a slight chance there’s a connection between the two? 

If energy is analogous to motivation and talent is about ability, we can setup an equation to look at performance potential.  Degree of motivation + degree of ability = performance potential.  [Motivation + Ability = Performance]

It doesn’t take a degree in mathematics to understand what happens to the performance of young professionals who find themselves on the teams of older experienced managers that are unreceptive to their hopes and dreams.  A decreased degree of motivation among young workers is equivalent to lost individual and organizational performance – and destruction of stakeholder value. 

But can it be recovered? 

The research says that the most resilient people possess (1) good self-esteem, (2) a sense of control over one’s destiny, and (3) a strong dose of optimism.  Many NewGens are entering the workforce with all of these, from the way you have described them. 

Some ‘OldGens’ (?) that are encountering these resilient NewGens believe that these dreamers need a dose of reality.  To know that nothing comes easy.  That there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  That an expectation of immediate gratification is not socially, environmentally, or economically sustainable.

And they would have a point…


Eat That Frog! Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress

I’ve learned a great deal from Brian Tracy over the years.  One thing in particular stands out from all the others.

This “thing” – call it a concept, an idea, a technique, a metaphor, a suggestion – has been huge in helping me increase my productivity, while also reducing my stress.  Sound pretty good?  It is!

Tracy has developed and popularized the idea of eating frogs for breakfast.  Not the frog’s legs that they supposedly eat in France, but a metaphorical frog.

What he proposes is that we all have things on our ‘to do’ lists that cause us anxiety until they are completed.  These are often important tasks that will create positive results for us, but we delay taking action, because there is something that holds us back.

In this short video, you can learn not only why we struggle to “get stuff done”, but also what you can do to improve your productivity and reduce your stress:  Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy (video).

With respect to the anxiety we experience when we have a frog that we haven’t eaten, I believe that the source of the anxiety stems from two things: (1) having an unmet commitment to ourselves or others and (2) fear about the anticipated pain associated with the impact of not yet having completed the task.

For example, if you said you would send a client or boss a report by a certain date and time and now that time has passed, you will likely experience anxiety.  (1) You will have an unmet commitment, since you have said you would do something and then didn’t.  (2) You will worry about having a difficult conversation with your client or boss, who may be upset or at least less trusting of your integrity and reliability.

I would suggest that the benefits of alleviating (or at least reducing) this kind of anxiety and tension from your daily life is equal to, if not greater, than the benefits of “getting your stuff done.”

For me, my frogs are often things like writing a client a proposal, dealing with a complicated email question from a student, or writing a reference letter for someone.

Breaking it down into smaller more (psychologically) manageable chunks certainly helps.  What can also help is gathering archived information, so I realize that I’m not starting from a blank canvas (e.g., past proposals, emails, and reference letters).

My wife and I now commonly use the phrase “I’m working on a big frog right now” to let the other know we are proud to be making progress on completing something that we, for whatever reasons, felt a great deal of resistance to doing.  This also lets the other know that we would like some time and space to be able to focus on the task at hand to make sure it gets completed.

At the office, I keep a picture of Kermit the Frog on my bulletin board as a constant reminder to reflect on the question, “what are my frogs that I’m currently avoiding?”

It’s easy to busy yourself with an inbox full of emails, attend unnecessary meetings, and to be drawn towards tacking all the easy things on your ‘to do’ list (assuming you’ve even taken the time to make one).  However, you only arrive at the end of the day never having really done the one or two things that would have made the day feel like a success.  Made it feel productive.  Made you feel more relaxed and less stressed.

Also, once you’ve eaten your frog, you’ll feel way more energy and enthusiasm for all the other things you do throughout the rest of the day.  They’ll feel easy!  You’ll feel light!


What’s your biggest frog right now?

Why is it important for you to eat this frog?

How will you feel once you’ve eaten this frog?

What are you tempted to do instead of eating this frog?

What will you chose to do?

Great!  Now get to it!  Here’s a napkin, for when you’re done…



Creating Your Own World View

By understanding our world, we stand a far better chance of changing it.

Similar to a scientist, who is seeking to understand the world from their discipline’s perspective (e.g., Physics, Biology, Chemistry), we too can make use of their powerful approach to create our own individual world view.  This post is about the value of actively pursuing the creation of your own world view.

“Now why would I want to do that”, you ask?  Well, first, it’s useful to understand that you are doing it anyway – just unconsciously and unintentionally.  As human beings, we are “meaning making machines”, constantly striving to make sense of our world as we perceive it.  We are continually trying to figure out our place in the world and how to best interact with it in a way that helps us avoid pain and move towards pleasure.

My point is that these world views are passively created.  If your aim is to be in the driver’s seat of your own life, wouldn’t you agree that you should do everything you can to actively pursue the creation of your own world view, such that it serves you?

Did I hear you say, “Okay, I’m sold.  So, where do I go from here?”  It’s fairly simple, but like many things, not always easy.  By regularly and consciously creating hypotheses and testing them, you will begin to form your own world view.  With your latest hypothesis in hand, when you come across information (evidence) that supports or refutes your hypothesis, you are essentially testing your ideas, assumptions, and beliefs about something that matters to you in your life.

As a result of consistently practicing this habit, you will notice that you gradually become more confident in your view of how things and people operate/work.  Consequently, because your perspective on the world will be evidence-based, you will become more effective at predicting and influencing the behaviour of yourself and other people.

Do you have a perspective on this post, from your own world view?  If so, please comment below!