I only got a trophy when I earned it: On self-discipline and personal growth
There’s a “microgeneration” that you may not know about nestled right in between Generation X and the Millennials, called (brilliantly) the Xennials. I fall into this generation. Xennials are defined by the memory of a childhood with simpler technology, yet we live a digital adulthood. We’ve experienced both delayed and instant gratification, know the difference between achievement and fame, balance investing with leveraging… straddling the values of a generation that’s passed with those of the up-and-comers we work with on a daily basis.
When I first found out about the term for being on the cusp, I was relieved. I grew up without social media and personal tech (unless you count my Walkman); my parents valued education first, and my number one responsibility was self-discipline and personal growth. Having this experience made me different than some of my squarely Millennial peers: I wasn’t raised to believe everything that I did was “special,” and I only got a trophy when I earned it. And man, did I work for it. Whether it was hours in the gym despite the rips on my hands, late nights studying Chemistry and Physics, or writing that English report for extra-credit, I pushed myself to achieve, simply because I wanted to be the best version of myself.
Other key influencers in my life shared this experience with me. Most notably, my Depression-era grandparents “grew-up” in manufacturing and were an exemplary team who valued hard work, persistence, and responsibility. Even into their 90s, they would wake up every day and go to the gym, read the newspaper, and get things done around the house. What they said and what they did were always the same — not only did they have self-discipline, but also integrity.
So, how do these experiences and mentors shape who I am today? First, I have a system of values to fall back on (as I discussed in leading from your values). Secondly, I take responsibility — for who I am, for what I do, and for those I lead. Finally, I’ll never stop — learning, growing, doing — until I get there. Success is a journey.
Every generation brings something to the table. From the disciplined Depression-Era generation to the team-oriented Baby Boomers, the self-reliant Gen-Xers to the connected Millennials, each group has admirable traits to offer. As an in-betweener I feel lucky to have the opportunity to have learned from those before and after me, and I look forward to continuing to grow and change together.