Aug 23, 2015
Aug 23, 2015
What’s up with the millennial generation? For years, I toiled with understanding this younger generation and their exceptional talents. Finding an inroad to harness their unique voice and spirit presented a wonderful opportunity to step into their collective psyche to identify what, why and how they experience the world. This is a generation that gets their news from satirical outlets such as Comedy Central, living by word-of-mouth recommendations from friends on Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and Blogs.
In my leadership role as a banking executive working in one of the most affluent areas of the country, finding committed, talented and engaged younger employees became extremely difficult. Scratching my head, this baby-boomer boss spent a significant amount of time and energy interviewing, discussing and leading these associates only to find unique challenges associated with this generation. This group encompasses those born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s.
By contrast, as a baby-boomer, I know the difference between a world of limited technology and a simpler, more structured order from today’s increasingly intertwined and ever-accelerating technological mainstream. Not only have I endured the jagged mix of bridging the chasm of generations in my professional life, but also in my personal world. With three sons born during this tumultuous period, finding understanding and cohesion has been an interesting journey.
History gives us some important clues as to why millennials were born into a new age, a new reality. The millennial generation commenced with a very dramatic shift in American consciousness. The era of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, during the 60s and 70s, took a sharp turn when a little known disease entered the current mainstream: AIDS. Living in New York City at the onset, I witnessed a penetrating fear infiltrate the psyche of young men in the City. What had been a culture of freedom and exploration now turned cold and dire as young gay men inflicted by the disease died a horrible death. This shift in the collective unconscious brought about a fear that had not been known previously. And culturally, AIDS became not only a symbol of the homosexual community but a social wedge creating a deep crevice in our collective experiences.
November 9, 1989, was a pivotal date in world history as the Berlin Wall crumbled. This iconic landmark symbolized the end of the Cold War and the introduction to a new world order. Fast forward to December 26, 1991, when the former USSR dissolved the Soviet Bloc into a Commonwealth of Independent States. So world events ushered in the start of the millennial generation. But even more impactful was this new technology called the Internet. By the mid-1990s, computers were entering the American landscape and by the early 2000s, everything changed in a big way with the ubiquitous emergence of cellular phones. But wait, there was more! In the mid 2000s, came the advent of smart cellular phones equipped with functionality that again accelerated everything in our world. Essentially smart phones were handheld computers with a phone function. The millennial generation seemed to be born with the immediate dexterity to power their world from a phone in their pocket. Speed, access and availability now became a standard to which this generation seemed at home.
Here are 5 simple methods to employ when engaging a millennial.
1. LEAD WITH OPTIONS-
Directing, bossing and ordering will not work. When involving millennials, open your leadership (including parenting) with options of how to complete tasks beyond rote practice. Flexibility is key!
2. OVER COMMUNICATE-
This generation is attached to a virtual reality that has instructed their pattern of communication to texting vs. phoning, following Facebook vs. one-on-one interactions and multitasking vs. task oriented engagement.
3. INVITE THEM-
Do not be fooled into thinking that millennials do not have creative capacity to revolutionize standard practice into a better, more efficient way of being. Lead by invitation and watch out for amazing ideas.
4. CREATE A SOLID PLATFORM-
This generation does not know what it feels like to not have technology running the show. Being born into a society of fear with foundations crumbling does not provide any solid footing on which to have security. Provide a safe and secure environment from which they can thrive.
5. LEARN FROM THEM-
Whether you like it or not, computers, the Internet and rapid-fire technological advances are the reality for all of us. Rather than live in frustration and annoyance, ask them to teach you their natural abilities. Join in the fun!
Aug 23, 2015
Aug 23, 2015
Paradoxically, what has come to characterize true masculinity is anything but! Take for instance strength and courage, two attributes concretely demonstrating manly fortitude. How one qualitatively describes strength and courage depends on the circumstances around which men exhibit behaviors attributed to these two characteristics. Is it strength and courage when a man treats a woman as less than? Does strength and courage emanate when men fail to support equal pay for women? And politically speaking, do we attribute strength and courage to conservative media, politicians and leaders when men decide what is in the best interest in decisions regarding women’s health? Can we tag honor, respect and true masculinity to those men who feel comfortable demeaning, degrading and subjugating women? The answer to all these questions is clearly, NO!
It seems our human experience is replete with many powerful examples of cowardice and false bravado where ‘real men’ support the longstanding notion that simply due to their natural birthright as men, they exist on a higher pedestal than women. Male domination, primarily through institutional violence, power and control, has existed and enjoyed ubiquitous acceptance for millennia. So what have we learned about the myths of being a REAL MAN?
Look deeper guys! Go below the superficial surface of accepted practice and find a meaningful understanding of your true masculinity. You are much more than bodies built for strength and courage. You are the beautiful melding of divine and purposeful energy and love. Yes men, love. Our collective shortsightedness is in part a reflection of the American story, a short one compared to other cultures with thousands of years of recorded history. Eastern philosophy and practice speaks to the symbolism of Yin and Yang, Father Sun and Mother Moon, the balance between feminine and masculine energies, all of which embody unity, connection and the necessity of love, understanding and compassion.
Let us examine 5 myths associated with Real Men.
1. REAL MEN don’t cry!
Wrong! Real men openly express their emotions, including sadness, loss and frustration. We are a composite of body, mind and spirit. The human experience is entirely emotional and experiential. To cut off and live true to select emotions is to live broken and disabled. Stop operating from a storyboard of false and limiting beliefs.
2. REAL MEN are macho!
Not necessarily! The Village People’s, Macho, Macho Man iconic hit of the 1980s, sarcastically illustrated the ultimate paradox associated with real men being macho. A reminder— gay men are men. The word and meaning of ‘macho’ has undergone great transition over the past several decades, making it a passé to equivocate macho to describing a real man.
3. REAL MEN are ready and willing to fight!
Are you? It is a longstanding axiom that real men are ready to fight. This makes sense, in that violence, power and control are at the heart of masculinity. We continue to live intimately attached to war, violence, guns, brutality and subjugation. But while history clearly supports this myth, real men are selecting a higher vibration, one of dialogue, inclusion and flexibility. Real men oppose violence and brutality by standing up for women, supporting equal rights for all and by acknowledging their own femininity.
So put down that 6th beer, 4th slice of pizza and 22nd hot chicken wing. Turn off the Sunday afternoon gladiator NFL game and stop the perpetual stream of violence.
4. REAL MEN reject their femininity!
What? We are the composite of masculine and feminine energies and qualities. How often have you come in contact with a man making derogatory comments about homosexuals or lesbians or people of color or anyone different than them? Gender orientation is a complex issue for many who live silently in their own disorientation. When I hear people bashing a gay man or woman, I quietly acknowledge their struggle with sexuality. Real men are comfortable in their own skin and supportive of others who choose a different life style.
5. REAL MEN can’t show love and compassion!
Yes! Don’t hide from the love that exists within. Real men are loving, sensitive and empathetic. Open yourself up to the only facet of life that means anything: love and compassion for yourself and others. Be the light that shines on true masculinity.
Aug 14, 2015
Fear has prevented me from living true to myself and from taking prudent risks. But fear is a broad catchall ...
Aug 14, 2015
Fear has prevented me from living true to myself and from taking prudent risks. But fear is a broad catchall for other negative emotions. Fear is based on future outcomes that, in most cases, do not occur. We tend to separate emotions of anger, hate, jealousy, betrayal, resentment, sadness, hurt, and discontent from fear. Yet, all are tentacles of the same root cause: fear.
This pattern has pulled me away from honest self-expression, meaningful exchanges of love and compassion while also limiting my leadership ability and catalyzing a life governed more by the incessant false ego than the universal gift of love in all its magnificent possibilities. The outcome is living well below my full capacity as a friend, partner, professional, father, husband, lover, and contributing member of my community.
I recall my shyness as a young boy, feeling insecure that I would be left behind. It was not until well into my adulthood that I understood that this fear was attached to my being given up for adoption. The fear manifested in my creating a life of falsehood. Creating a safe haven where the real Michael was hidden became a primary objective, for to open that door would show me as unlovable and someone to be cast aside. After failed marriages, less than desirable professional outcomes and lethal addiction, I realized the fallacy of my life’s journey. The change came as a result of slowly tearing away the fearful foundation upon which I had constructed my reality.
In the continuum of life, on one side exists fear. On the other side are love, compassion and understanding. Fear and love do not exist in the same room, yet fear can be a powerful ignition switch leading to love if one becomes conscious to his/her psychic themes. As with all of life, it involves making a choice.
Waking up to the power of fear can be liberating if one chooses to see fear for what it is and what it is not. Either way, the choice involves recognizing the difference between light and dark, fear and love, authentic and false.
Five myths about fear:
1. The REAL YOU is unlovable
No, the false you is unlovable because what you show others is dishonest. Stepping into your REAL self is empowering and life-filling. You are never better than when you are yourself. Be courageous and step into your amazing unique self. The REAL YOU is worthy of love, both giving and receiving.
2. FEAR keeps you safe
No, fear shields you from realizing true safety and security. When you step out of fear and into love and compassion, you become strong. What you put out comes back to you tenfold. Be authentic and courageous by dropping the false guard and being whole.
3. Showing fear equals WEAKNESS
No, showing that you are fearful demonstrates vulnerability, which amounts to showing others that you are in fact HUMAN. When we open ourselves up to vulnerability, we indelibly connect with others from a visceral humanness. Leaders who are unafraid to say, “I don’t know,” or “I am sorry for my actions,” or “what do you think is the right solution?” are those who show great strength.
4. FEAR by subordinates strengthens my leadership
No, if anyone is fearful of you, they will not be honest about their thoughts, ideas or aspirations. Fear erodes leadership, for it eliminates an open forum, curtails enthusiasm and diminishes the overall health of relationships. When honest feelings and thoughts are shared, you have stepped into conscious leadership.
5. FEAR in intimate relationships keeps partners closer-
No, in no other human enterprise is fear more destructive than in our intimate relationships. Fear prevents us from asking for what we desire. It dilutes intimacy and relegates us to live unfulfilled lives. Perhaps the greatest opportunity for us is to let love, not fear, guide us to authentic union with another. Be bold!