Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

 

When I was of millennial age, I used to think my bosses were talentless, arrogant oafs who twisted and manipulated solely for their personal gain.

I was right, of course.

In turn, my bosses must have thought of me as an entitled brat who believed that he deserved only the best projects and unlimited adoration.

They were right, of course.

These days, though, millennials have become their own distinct emotional category.

The wear their entitledness not only on their sleeves, but on their TOMS.

Their parents have paid for extremely expensive educations, so, like good investors, they're demanding their immediate returns.

This attitude tends to disappear up some people's noses so far that it reaches their brains.

Some millennials are, though, perfectly proud to be entitled.

I just came across an explanation of this phenomenon offered by millennial writer and journalist Charlotte Ottaway.

She sees nothing wrong in entitlement and is prepared to stand up for it.

To her, being entitled means "refusing to work a job you hate for 10 years, despite being told repeatedly you need to 'pay your dues.'"

Paying your dues might have been an acceptable concept when there was a genuine trust between employer and employee, when there was a belief that the employers would see right by employees for life. Now?

To Ottaway, being entitled also means "declining to spend decades of your life driving in rush hour traffic everyday, and sitting at a desk from 9 to 5 for no clear reason other than the fact your boss told you to do it."

Finally, millennial entitlement means "refusing to believe freedom is something you only achieve upon retirement."

Your head is performing an involuntary nod, isn't it? You'll be talking about this with your shrink at the next appointment.

Oddly enough, some of Ottaway's concerns are reflected there. Millennials look at corporate life and see the scam it entails.

There is no promise of a certain future. They've seen what corporate life has done to their parents. And it can't be easy to watch some of your contemporaries get rich very quickly.

Ottaway puts it like this: "What if [being entitled] meant you simply demanded something better? A better approach. A better career. A better life."

How many times, indeed, does one see adults who survived and prospered in the corporate world retire and then muse daily about how they wasted their lives?

Think of all the hours they spent in meetings, silently cursing the halfwits around them, gritting their teeth and praying their bonuses would be paid on time.

Ottaway defines being an entitled millennial with three tenets.

The first is to be present, to work in order to enjoy your life right now.

The second is to appreciate that in knowing you only live once, you don't have to blow everything on one crazy night. You might eat cheap meals for a month, in order to enjoy what's important: to "build your career around your life instead of building your life around your career."

And then there's the enormous resistance to living your life according to someone else's rules.

"You're tired of conforming to the rigid boundaries of the traditional corporate world," she says. "You want something more. And you understand the only person who can make the change is you."

Well, once you get off of the skateboard you float around on at the office, that is.

Part of the reason we mock millennials (admit it, you do too) is that we recognize some of our own attitudes from the past.

Perhaps one of the problems we have with today's millennials attitude is that it's now being expressed more openly than ever before.

When younger generations are used to expressing their every thought online as regularly as they wash their hands, why be surprised that they take that attitude into (what's left of) the real world?

Of course, when the next recession hits (my bet is still on this year), millennial attitudes may be sorely tested.

As, dare I say it, will most people's.

Published on: Mar 16, 2016