Just caught myself out.
I read an article about Gen Y'ers. The article made the assertion that this group of individuals has a particularly egregious trait. The article suggested that all Gen Y'ers are narcissists.
I kept reading because I was intrigued. I wanted to know what the author meant by 'narcissist.' And I wondered if it was possible to so stereotype a group of people. I noticed too how irritated I was. Now that's weird - it was just an article.
Reading further, I found no definition of narcissism. Hmmmm.
Then I asked myself if it even made sense that 10, 20 and 30 yr olds were narcissists? Under the literal definition of that word, we would have a ton of insecure people running around, either trying to get attention or avoiding it, with lots of carnage strewn everywhere. Emphasis on the last part of that sentence..carnage everywhere.
A quick study of narcissists reveals that they have no real empathy for others. They experience the world as being completely about them because they are afraid they aren't good enough. When they get information in their surroundings that would suggest they, in fact, are wrong, bad, or not good enough, they react, often poorly, not being able to tolerate the implications. Some lash out at those around them; others lash out at themselves with self-critical analysis. Both judge the situation as unfair and view themselves as victims.
Now doesn't that sounds suspiciously like another group? Maybe that's why they also call Gen Y'ers, the Echo Boomers. I come from the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation. We were once the poster children for self-absorbed, it's-all-about-me, behavior. Get rich, do it now, go-go-go, more-more-more. We defined 'societal civilized narcissism.' And it appeared to work for our generation .......for about 25 years.
Then the tendency to go too far started to show up. As in too far economically. Too far environmentally. The presence of predatory capitalism emerged. Our financial system is collapsing. Our environment is struggling. 25% of American children are starving. Talk about carnage everywhere.
HBR ran the article about Gen Y's being narcissists. I was irritated that such an esteemed institution of learning wants to pawn off our mistakes and challenges on a group of 20 - 30 year olds.
That's when I realized I was irritated at myself.
I am responsible.
I am a part of the whole that created the system we have right now. Because I lacked empathy and courage, I was a bystander as we let our natural systems be corrupted.
And, I am also response-able. With awareness of who and what I really am, I can shift my thinking and my behavior. I no longer wish to be a bystander, one of the 'scribes' that comes down from the hills after the war is waged and shoots the wounded.
As a new leader, please do consider that you are response-able, too. Lean into the challenge of change. Let empathy and courage lead the way.