Gen Y will take over the world — but it will take them 10,000 hours

IMG_4126I’m a big fan of Millennials in the workforce. Many of Tribe’s large corporate clients have been a bit stymied by how to recruit, manage and retain this new generation of employees, and I confess we had a few hurdles getting used to them on the staff at Tribe. For Boomers, Gen Jones and even Gen X, these 20-somethings can sometimes come across as overly confident  in their readiness to assume leadership positions. Millennials seem to believe opportunity should depend not on what they have done so far, but on what they’re capable of doing, if given the chance.

Our experience at Tribe has been that they’re capable of quite a bit. The Millennials working at Tribe are smart, talented and dedicated to doing good work. They are well spoken and natural in client meetings and presentations. They show good judgment handling difficult situations. They come up with great ideas.

Looks like they’ve got it all. Except experience. The 10,000 hour rule has been getting lots of attention since Malcolm Gladwell cited it as one of the keys to success in his latest book, Outliers. Gladwell suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of working at your craft to really master it. Seth Godin, another smart guy I like to read, says 10,000 might not be the magic number, but the point is most people give up after maybe 5,000 hours, when they hit what Godin calls the Dip.

Whatever the number of hours, there is definitely something to having done what you do for a long time. Ernest Hemingway said you’re not really a writer until you’ve written a million words. I’m no Hemingway, but I’ve written for a living since  I got out of college many moons ago. I know I write better and faster than I did when I started out. It’s easier now.

I’ve given our college intern the assignment of writing a blog on what it’s like to be a Millennial working at Tribe. He’s smart. He can write. He’s got a great work ethic.

But John is struggling to reach his goal of writing 10 blogs for Inside Tribe before the end of the summer. He’s got four posted now and just a week to go before he heads back to school. I check in on him, every day or so. Breathe down his neck, once in awhile. I tell him it’s good practice for him to have me leaning over his shoulder to see what he’s got on his computer screen. But really,  good practice is just doing the work. And doing it and doing it and doing it.

I feel fine about leaving the world in the hands of people like John and the other Millennials at Tribe. They are a generation I trust.

But in the meantime, I’m reassured by the knowledge that I’m way more than 10,000 hours ahead of them.

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One response to “Gen Y will take over the world — but it will take them 10,000 hours

  1. psychologyofsuccess

    Ability is great. However, experience and ability is greater. I have learned this through a martial art/sport that I practice (Brazilian Jiu-jitsu). It is essentially judo/wrestling with submissions and takes the average person 8 to 10 years to become a black belt. However, new people join all the time (due to the UFC) with the intention of becoming black belts in 2 years or less.

    They train 5 or 6 times a week for about 6 months and then they hit the wall. It almost never fails. They realize that it is a hard sport/martial art and like most endeavors greatness can’t be rushed.

    You have to put your time in. You have to get past your rough spots, plateaus, injuries, frustration, boredom, etc. Everything can go well for a few months but in a tough environment you will eventually run into opposition that will test your mettle. Only when you get past this can you begin to become great.

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