Have you ever asked yourself how you ended up in your current situation? What brought you to your current job? Why you are living where you live? How you chose your home? Why did you make any of the choices you made? Are they choices you are happy with? The more I asked myself these questions, the more I identified myself with my generation. Generation Y. A generation born in the years 1980 – 1990. A generation that doesn’t only focus on money and success, like previous generations, but focus on other motives, asking themselves often: Why am I doing this? That’s where the Y comes from. I had three events in my life that made me think about my previous situation and that lead me to my situation now. I guess you can say something clicked.
The first event was my wedding. I realised that I was no longer responsible for myself alone, but for another and all the others that would follow. I still remember that day really well. Everything was perfect and planned in detail. That day and the days following were more or less like a wonderful dream. At that moment I had no clue what to expect. But as we moved in together I realised that her problems were now my problems and vice versa. We had to solve them together. That’s when I asked myself for the first time: Am I doing everything right? I started thinking about whether or not my family and career would work well together.
The second event that made things click was at a seminar on rhetoric that I joined that was taking place near Frankfurt. My employer had the opinion that I had to work on my communication skills. He was right and it was about time I started improving on it. Often I didn’t know how to express myself right, but I was in direct contact with our costumers and representing the company. It was important. I have to admit that I was nervous when I attended the seminar, because I didn’t know what to say when people asked me what I did for a living. These were all experienced businessmen, but according to my boss, I was not. That was how I thought back then. The seminar was different from what I was expecting. The man in front of 18 people, of every age group, was speaking with a kind of authority I had never felt before. Not the kind of authority that makes you scared, but more like the one that you respect and are willing to follow. He was more than likeable to me. I looked up to him. Don’t ask me why, but he touched me, or better yet, something in me that I wasn’t aware of myself. He asked: “What is the most important word in your life?” All of us responded with what we had on our mind, but we were all wrong, until it came to an older gentleman’s turn. He had already attended the seminar, but this time he brought his children, so that they could learn something about life. He answered: “The most important word in my life is my name!” To test this theory Mr. Enkelmann, the host, asked us: “ Can someone please contradict this statement? This man asserts that the most important word in life is your name!” None of us could contradict him. Somehow we all had the feeling he was right. And he was right! During the whole seminar I questioned more and more how I wanted to convince people and speak with them, if I didn’t believe in myself. How should I make a good presentation, if I didn’t now why I was standing in front of them? What principles did I believe in? There were many more questions in my head and I got a strong headache as I asked myself for the second time the questions: “Am I doing everything right? Am I going in the right direction?”
You can hardly consider the last event a single incident, but many incidences that occurred over a certain amount of time. As a COO (Chief Operating Officer) I always had to report back to the owner of the company. This wasn’t easy at all, because I was the son of the owner. I often had interests that conflicted with the commands of my father. I didn’t know why it was so difficult to understand what my father wanted from me. I felt like we spoke two different languages. I guess you can compare it with German and Dutch. One-third of the words are similar and you think you understand the other, but don’t get the whole content. This is where you run into miscommunication. I had made a lot of mistakes, because I didn’t understand completely what my father meant. Sadly, both of us were, and still are, stubborn enough not to learn the other’s language, which lead to our break up.
In that time I read a lot of motivational books and saw a lot of motivational speakers, in order to find some reasons behind what happened and to inspire me. To be honest, more than 80% of them were a waste of time, but one of them hit the bull’s eye. He was speaking about a Generation Y. I had never heard of it before and with his short explanation I couldn’t really follow what he was talking about. But he spoke of different priorities and other motivations that drives this generation to work and money was not one of them. Even if I didn’t fully understand what he was talking about, the theme stuck with me. I started searching for more information about this Generation Y. Besides the characteristics I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, GenY is also well-educated, have faith in themselves, and always search for a reason behind what they do. Among these, if you only offer them money or materialistic things, they won’t be interested. They will more likely work for there principles and there faith in making the world better. Long story short: if there is no sense for them behind it, there is no interest. It was then when I saw the difference between me and my father. We didn’t speak two different languages we were only the product of two different generations. Not better than the other, but motivated by different things.
I would like to share in this blog my experience and to encourage everyone who is asking themselves: “Why do I do what I do?”
This blog is for those who need to work for something more than money. The generations before us tended to strive for money and success, but for Generation Y, money and success is only the by-product of what we enjoy doing. I believe that if you do something and it doesn’t make someone else’s life better, you are wasting your time. But start by making your life better! Not with money, but with integrity. As soon as you have figured out who you are, everyone around you will benefit. You have my word.