With graduation season and Father’s Day imminent, I’m taking time this month to reflect specifically on the Millennial/Contemporary Male. It’s a subject I’ve written on extensively over the years. Often, these are a generation of men that have lost their drive and with it the true vision of what it means to work hard. In general, this generation grew up with most everything handed to them, and with instant gratification regulating just about every decision. They’ve developed a sense of entitlement and have grand ideals of what adult life should be like – they want to work 6 hours a day in a job that doesn’t require too much work, yet that pays them a hefty paycheck at the end of the month. There is much more emphasis on “me” in this generation than “we.”
Being the parent of a Millennial/Contemporary son poses its own set of struggles. You want him to be valued as a functioning part of society, but you’re also aware of the reputation that precedes him. This Gen Y group has navigated away from honest work and a “blood sweat and tears” mentality, and instead wants overnight success or bust. Quite simply, they need to learn that the building blocks to victory are still the same as they’ve always been – good, old-fashioned hard work.
As parents, how can we help to reframe the mindset of these Millennial Men and reignite the spark in them? As I see it, this is a generation neglecting one fundamental detail that is true about life – The Win is Within. If we can help them to discover what things are important and how to integrate those things into life, the victorious spirit will be ignited. The modern day male has strayed from some basic principles that serve as the foundation for a victorious life. But we can help them reconnect with the basics.
Eating Right and Staying Fit: Often dismissed is the “diet and exercise” regimen that many people don’t think they have time for. But the benefits of a daily fitness routine are unsurpassed, as it not only benefits physically, but mentally too. When you exercise, the body produces endorphins, which provide you with plenty of energy and naturally boost your mood. But as the saying goes, “You can’t out-exercise a poor diet.” Eating healthy goes hand in hand with exercise, to look and feel your best and your best performance will follow suit.
Maintaining a Positive Attitude: “What you think, you become.” If you foster an optimistic, can-do attitude, that is what you will put out into the world. Maintaining a positive attitude is critical when you want to achieve anything. The power of positive thinking is stronger than any other force because it comes from within. Give yourself the power to determine your outcomes by accepting challenges and even in the face of adversity, visualizing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Accepting Challenges: It’s a fantastic sense of accomplishment after completing a task that required struggle, be it physical or mental. Those challenges allow us to expand our personal comfort zone, and ultimately, our happiness. Though it may feel uncomfortable at first, diving into a challenge and not giving up reminds us that anything is possible and your dreams are always within reach. “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.” In order to grow, we HAVE to reach outside our personal barriers.
Developing Relationships: The biggest mistake we make as humans is thinking that we have to endure this journey alone. Take advantage of all of the relationships around you and put in the extra effort to help them blossom and grow. Family and friends can serve as your strongest support system, to encourage and motivate you when the going gets tough. Go the extra mile to build rapport with a professor or a supervisor. They can offer you their experiences and wisdom, and help guide you where you want to go. Life is a group effort, and learning to play as a team is a key factor in your long-term success.
Upholding Values and Character: Good character traits are essential when it comes to self-esteem, relationships, and overall life satisfaction. It’s what makes people believe in us and is crucial not only for individual success, but for our society to function effectively. Your trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship are the most important things you can develop and share- and this will keep you on the road to victory.
As countless young men head off to graduation soon, we fathers must not and cannot afford to stand idly by as spectators. If we can help our Millennial/Contemporary Males build upon a foundation that is actually their birthright as humans, they will ignite the fire within themselves and head down the path to a victorious life.