I just finished reading The Fourth Turning, by William Strauss and Neil Howe. In the book, they apply their generational theories to the cycles of history and predict that we are now in the “Fourth Turning.” They describe it like this:
The Fourth Turning is a Crisis, a decisive era of secular upheaval when the values of regime propel the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.
Strauss and Howe go on to say that each Turning has its own mood. During the Fourth Turning, they suggest that we will see families being strengthened, gender roles widening, ideals championed, and new institutions founded. We will become practical as a culture, our social priority will be building our community, and our greatest sense of need will be to fix the world beyond ourselves.
It sounds like the world we are living in now, doesn’t it?
If you are familiar with Strauss and Howe’s previous book, Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, you know that the last Hero (or civic-focused) generation is known to most as the Greatest Generation, while the current Hero generation are the Millennials. The current Hero Generation has brought us Facebook, Twitter, and other online social networks. This generation is pushing to fix the problems of America and regularly puts their words into action at the voting booth. This generation strives to make a difference in the world and consistently delivers on their promises.
As the Millennials move into adulthood, they are merging their needs, values, and expectations into every detail of their lives. They need to feel that they are making a difference. They value consensus, relationships, and family. They hold the government, institutions, corporations, their peers, society, and themselves to higher standards than any other generation. Along the way, their idealism is resetting the expectations not just for their own generation, but also for all.
Organizations and corporations must take note of these changes because it is redefining the way success will be measured as it relates to the customer, member, or donor. Consider these points critical for the future survival of nearly every business and organization:
- Be trustworthy in all your encounters. You have to earn the business.
- Be transparent in all your actions. You must walk the talk.
- Stand for something bigger than profits. Greed is no longer acceptable.
- Make a difference in the world around you. You must care and show it.
- Build meaningful relationships with your customers. People like to do business with those they like.
- Ask for input from constituents and use what you are given. Collaboration and consensus means everything.
While these points could essentially be summed up into the Golden Rule, they are often lost in the business world. The Millennials are reminding us all that there is something larger than ourselves that needs tending. This is the attitude that must prevail in our businesses, our colleges, our communities, and our government.
If Millenials are successful in driving change in this Fourth Turning, our world will undoubtedly change for the better. And, they will have earned the label of Hero.
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David Harkins is a business strategist, speaker, and teacher.
He is the founder and executive consultant at David Harkins Company. In his spare time, he writes hikes, explores, and creates art. Although, not necessarily in that order.
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