Generation X Has an Unfair Advantage
Hold on millennials and baby boomers, we’re not done yet, so let’s be F.R.I.E.N.D.S
Many things have been said about what benefits baby boomers and millennials offer to the world in general and it seems like Generation X is almost always taken out of the discussion. For those born between 1968 to 1981, like myself, I’m left wondering if my generation made an indelible mark on the world the same way baby boomers or millennials have?
The fact is, boomers are the most talked about generation partly due to the sheer number of people who were born between 1946 and 1964. In general, baby boomers are highly educated, at least in the US, so it’s not surprising that this generation essentially built world economies from the ruins of war. But the victory of World War II also caused liabilities that took generations to pay off. The repercussions of war led to a failed Vietnam and Cold war, leaving countries in deep debt that only continued to grow for years to come.
Now the millennials, the younger generation born in the early 1980s to around 2000, are pretty much the most tech-savvy of all generations. But let’s face it, they are too tech savvy and too much of a good thing is not great either.
Millennials came at a time when new technologies made the world smaller, the 6 degrees of separation has been challenged to be 3.5 degrees of separation due to the emergence of Facebook and other mass social media. The innovations were seen in video games, the Internet, and smartphones led to a fast paced lifestyle. Advanced technology is a double-edged sword; it can empower as well as corrupt the mind and cause laziness. The Millenials, while being tech savvy and innovative, are deemed as narcissistic, impatient, impractical, impulsive and well, distracted simply because they were exposed to mobile technology from birth. Really, how many Millenials do you know who are not glued on their smartphones?
This generation lives in a world where information can be obtained at lightning speed. We got kids who are using resources like Wikipedia to do their homework or create their own thesis; these sources are not ideal for forming fact-based arguments. Most of the things they know are read off on the Internet. But not everything on the internet is true; it’s no longer about finding information, its abundantly available, it’s about developing the ability to filter the information and confirming the sources.
On the other hand, my generation did research the old fashioned way. We went to the library; we used encyclopedias, books, and other resources. Everything we know today, we got it from factual sources, so we know how to confirm resources. We took directions from our mentors, our teachers, not the internet. We never relied on Google for anything! Now don’t think that we have our old Encyclopedia Britannica open in front of us while researching what a “selfie is”, we do use the internet for pretty much all of our resources today, however we confirm these sources and reference them in our work.
Generation X is the most hardworking of all generations. Those who were born in this generation were able to turn the economy around, recover from a financial slump and lead the country to progress. Fact is, the economy was at its healthiest during the 90s and 2000s. The baby boomers may be educated with their college degrees but having a master’s degree is a norm in my generation.
Generation X: The Bridge Generation
People who belong in Generation X came at a time when the old and new ways merged, allowing flexibility, continuous learning, and balance; we are the bridge between the past and the future. We are able to speak to the older generations with relative ease because the old ways were very much part of who we are. But we are young enough to relate to the younger generation, understanding and being a part of the digital landscape. Because the beginnings of mobile technology were introduced in my generation, we are able to adjust to new technologies, relate to younger people on social media and learn future technologies.
Advantages of Being Part of Generation X
Generation X is a huge part of the past, present, and future. And the advantages of being part of this generation are tied up to every aspect of our current lifestyle, technology, economy, business, and social media. Gen X have a clear advantage over the others, here are some of these advantages:
People who belong in Generation X are young enough to understand new technology! After all, we were the first to see personal computers showing up in homes. We were the first to play Invaders, Pac-Man, Atari or watch MTV while being the first to embrace Call of Duty and GTA. And we are the first to embrace new ventures while giving the old ones a chance to prove themselves. Millenials have no loyalty and patience while baby boomers ask for direction from the young ones. Gen Xers are patient in teaching them while millenials get bored and would just do it for them. At the same time, we embrace new fads and gimmicks; look at the huge rise of the Pokémon Go game among all generations, Gen Xers are just as engaged in this game as the young millenials.
My generation saw the world change, technology evolve, and adapted just as easily because we triggered these changes, we made things happen.
We cannot say the same thing for Baby Boomers and Millenials. My generation is just as comfortable observing the old ways as it is indulging in technology. This makes us a more well-rounded generation because Generation X was able to merge the best of both worlds without compromising the uniqueness of the old and the new. We also listen, I’m not talking about being in a lecture, I’m saying we actually take the time to seek and take advice, learn and enhance.
Gets the Job Done
Want to get the job done? Get someone from Generation X to do it. According to a study published in the Business Insider, 70% of respondents believe that the Generation X make the best managers compared to Millenials and Baby Boomers. In a separate executive study, Korn Ferry Futurestep found that Generation X is the most engaged generation in the workforce at 52%. All these studies show that when you want to get something done, hiring a person born in Generation X is your best bet.
People from Generation X are excellent problem solvers and that is what makes them an effective manager. From turning the economy around to developing and learning new technologies and everything else in between, my generation literally survived by adapting to so many changes. We never relied on Google to fix a problem, people from my generation were trained to resolve the root cause of the problem, not work around it. We never benefitted from the internet the same way Millenials have so we had to find creative ways to get things done. We are not afraid of getting our hands dirty.
“The measure of intelligence is adaptability to change” — Albert Einstein. Gen X was full of thinkers, innovators, and influencers, people who instigated change and transformed the world while adapting to the ever-changing landscape of economic, technological and social factors.
With new advances in science and technology being thrown at us, no other generation adapted to change quite as effortlessly as Gen X. Keeping up with the times had its challenges but being part of a massive transition, we were able to adapt to changes quickly.
And because folks from the Generation X are well adapted to whatever changes life throws at them, they’ve become flexible, able to overcome challenges that other generations are still struggling with even today. Being flexible is a critical attribute in business. Unlike Millenials, those who belong to the X Generation are less likely to walk away from their current job.
The baby boomers have experienced the best of the past while the Millenials saw a glimpse of the future but where does that leave us from the Generation X? The baby boomers were notorious for being overly critical of my generation and I thought it was unfair that that Generation X was being tagged as lazy, full of angst or generally worse off than the previous generation when we’ve done so much to trigger progress and make the present so much better.
Generation X was able to thrive because of its ability to adapt and innovate.
The fact is, we developed technology that made information sharing faster, easier. We relate to older and younger generation alike and we adapted to changes far more easily because Generation X’s very existence depended on survival. So who’s using most of the technology and innovations that Gen Xers creates?
Amro Abbas is the Chief Marketing Officer at Midwam, an experience design company based in Saudi Arabia.
An art enthusiast, Photogrpahy freak, marketing addict, tech obsessed, media junkie who’s binge living the world. Amro holds an MBA from London Business School and is married to a lovely wife and father to two beautiful (and extremely cute!) girls.