Last night I watched “Away We Go” and felt it really captured the Generation X (born 1961-1981) character (especially the younger Gen X parents).
The story is of a 30-something couple, both living a somewhat vagabond lifestyle, unattached to place or jobs (they both work in jobs where they can telecommute). They discover they are going to have a baby and, soon after, that their self-indulgent Boomer (born 1943-1960) parents are leaving town – so they have no ties to the place. They go in search of the perfect place to raise there child and their trials on their journey are both humorous and touching.
Although our family is past this stage, I really identified with the characters in the film. Doing what was required to get by and thinking about where they should raise their family. Our family traveled up and down the West Coast for years, following work and looking for the right place before settling on Portland, OR. Our two year stint in Sacramento (for my wife’s Masters in Education) is more than half-way done now and I wonder if we will be in the position of those characters once again soon…
Neil Howe was heavily quoted in this Newsweek article on the meaning of 9-11 to Millennial (born 1982-2004) who were 10 at the time of the attacks. The video is below, but the article is also worth a read.
Baby Boomers (born 1943-1960) are rather famous for their outspoken and contreversial manner. In their youth they expressed a great deal of anger at “The Man” (aka their GI Generation parents) and used that anger to stop the Vietnam War and break down the shallow society that surrounded them. Even as a Gen X’er (born 1961-1981) I have respect and admiration for the changes that they instigated (I am not really a fan of the idealized American Dream) but times have changed, and I wonder if Boomers are ready to adapt.
I came upon a site that was truly troubling: “Angriest Generation” which has a call to action for the Baby Boomers to “Get Angry”. The author is looking for stories about what angers Boomers and why we need to listen to them rage about it. My response: sorry Boomers, you had your chance at protest, and now it is time to grow up and help the younger generations put this society back together. Enough of the “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” already. If Boomers really want to be productive, they should follow the advice of Neil Howe and William Strausss from their book “The Fourth Turning“:
“The continued maturation of Boomers is vital for the Crisis to end in triumph. These one-time worshipers of youth must relinquish it entirely before they can demand from Millennials the civic virtue they themselves did not display during the Awakening.”
So we don’t need anymore anger or outrage from Boomers, we need forbearance and wisdom. If you are a Boomer and you are ready to put your idealistic rhertoric aside, we need you in leadership. But if not, then it is time to let Generation X lead the way. In fact, an article from the Harvard Business Review Blogs a few days ago, makes this point very well:
We already have a Gen X’er in the White House. Time for other Gen X’ers to step up and heed the call of pragmatic leadership at all levels. And Boomers we need your help! Just don’t think we are going to be interested in hearing what you are angry about, or that it will help solve the monumental problems our world is facing today.
I found an interesting article about the differences between Baby Boomers (born 1943-1960) and Gen X’ers (born 1961-1981) as managers. It is written by Bob Filipczak, who is a Gen X’er.
My favorite quote:
The attitude that “organizations are interchangeable” is beginning to evolve into “employees are interchangeable, and thereby disposable.” If you thought corporations were ruthless during the 80s and 90s, you may be unpleasantly surprised by organizations under the stewardship of Generation X management.
“Other generations were reared to be more individualistic,” Hais says. “This civic generation has a willingness to put aside some of their own personal advancement to improve society.”
If you are a Gen-X’er (born 1961-1981), take a look at this gallery that is included in the article. These kids are not acting much like we did in our youth. If you are like me, you probably can’t help think, “Damned goody two shoes! I’m not buying the act!”. Our Gen X cynicism sure dies hard.
I won’t be blogging here much next week because I am headed to Beijing, China for a week there with my ex-pat Brother, Robert. I will be posting photos and stories as time allows on my personal blog at: