“Logic can take you from A to B, but imagination can take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
You don’t have to get out much to realize we live in a pessimistic fog. There is a constant barrage of commentaries and bullet points—
- High unemployment (and under employment)
- High debt with no end in sight
- Lack of affordable housing
- Drop in the educational system
- Constant threat of terror
What does this have to do with the younger generation? Richard Florida reminds us in The Rise of The Creative Class that the greatest periods of gloom happen to also be the greatest periods of innovation.
The entrepreneurial spirit always shows bright during these times. As Joseph Campbell once said, “If you’re falling……dive!”
And it will not be the government or central banks that will drive its upsurge. It will be the younger generation. The economic ingenuity is being democratized more everyday. It is so much easier to set up a business with many customers…thanks to cyberspace. A twenty-something can come up with an idea and present it to 500+ friends on one social media instrument alone. It used to take much longer to get your message out to that many people. Now it can happen with the push of a button.
One of the attributes that Millennials share is an imaginative orientation. They are much more experimental than older generations as a whole. They are digital natives, and technology is their first language. This group (2.1 billion worldwide – 92 million in the U.S.), has sensed and seized this entrepreneurial spirit in far greater proportions than the older generations.
Walk into a classroom or workplace that is saturated with Millennials and you will walk away with the impression—as subjective and anecdotal as it is—that there is a lower proportion of pessimism and gloom than in other groups. Some write this off as naivety, elitism, and entitlement, but there is something deeper at work. There is an imaginative orientation driving their entrepreneurial spirit.
Look at some facts:
- In 1998 surveys showed that in Britain 48% of young Millennials (those who are today in their early thirties), wanted to start their own businesses. In 2012 it went up to 49%.
- According to the Gallup-HOPE Index, nearly 8 in 10 U.S. students (77%), who are today between the ages of 18-23, said they want to be their own boss. 45% said they plan to start their own business. 42% said they will invent something that changes the world. The majority of the students also demonstrated persistence and a willingness to assume risk. 91% were not afraid to take risks even if failure was a possibility. 85% said they never give up. In the U.S. the entrepreneurial energy is waiting to be tapped. This will help drive future job creation since small businesses are responsible for creating most of the new jobs.
Yet even though the American student population demonstrates attitudes that describe entrepreneurs, they are not getting the help they need from adults or the educational system.
Parents, schools, and businesses can make a difference by creating an atmosphere and opportunities to cultivate the imagination of these young people who range from mid teens to those in their mid thirties. If their entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged they will achieve more than has ever been done.
In Managing The Millennials, 2nd Edition, we show how this Imaginative orientation based on the intrinsic value of self-expression can be cultivated and put to incredible use.
This creative spirit is not just for profit. Much of this younger generation’s energy is directed toward social enterprise and nonprofits. They focus just as much on social change as they do on commercial gain.
Our educational system should take note. There needs to be a strong priority in encouraging…
- The development of technical skills.
Let’s put their imagination to work. As we say in Managing The Millennials, 2nd Edition, keep their minds and hearts engaged by using their well-developed imaginations to solve problems and innovate.
We cannot buy, tax, or legislate our way to a world booming with startup companies. The future success of our economy relies on our young people. Let’s mentor, intern, and tap into their strengths—giving them a chance to succeed.
Find out more by ordering your copy of Managing The Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce, 2nd Edition, today.