I was talking to a female executive who has been working in finance for 30 years. She was outraged.
“This young whippersnapper comes right out of a good school, not a great school, mind you, and we are interested in hiring her for a pretty great entry-level position. When we were going over the terms, she says, ‘I have to leave a little early on Tuesdays and Thursdays to go to yoga.’ I almost fell off my chair! When I was starting out I worked for 14 hours a day. I would leave to go get dinner and come back to the office. That’s how I made it. And now . . . kids are coming into their first jobs — which, mind you, there aren’t that many of— and they want to leave early go to yoga??? I just don’t understand.”
When there is a generation gap like the one we are facing today between Boomers and Millennials, things can seem a bit unfathomable. From the story above, it is so clear how our cultural priorities have shifted. Hard work is, of course, still respected and rewarded, but an emphasis on self-care, adventure and personal development lives alongside the desire for success and making money. Since corporate culture is ever-evolving, many of today’s companies would value leaving early for yoga or exercise and include it in a job package.
In addition, Millenials can be very proactive about self-care and skilled at asking for what they want. This is a good thing.
However, in the financial executive’s rant there is more to be explored than a personal issue regarding a shift in corporate culture, and the values and priorities within a generation gap. The question that lurks within the conflict is:
Empowered behavior comes from the desire to live in accordance with one’s values, AND includes an awareness of the environment.
Entitled behavior demands something simply because one believes it should be so.
I was talking to a man who started dating. He was irritated because when he took his date to the restaurant, she said, “I can’t eat here. It’s not vegan.” He didn’t mind her food preferences and thought there would be some options for her at the place he chose. But her declaration had a tone of entitlement. He claims he would have felt more open if she took him into account, by saying, “I prefer to eat in a restaurant that serves mostly vegan food. Is that possible?”
A woman recently stated, “A man should pay for me on a date,” as if that’s the way it should be. Entitled. A more empowered stance might be, “I really enjoy being taken out on dates, it makes me feel cherished.”
At work and in love, we are empowered when we have the attitude: I will give my best because I that is how I stay connected —to myself, first and foremost, and then to others. We are entitled when we believe: I deserve the best because I’m special.
And so, I wonder. If the young woman had said “I have a yoga class that helps me stay balanced and focused that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I know it would keep me on track at work. Would it be okay if I came in and left early on those days?” do you think she would have gotten the same reaction from the exec? Do you think she was hired? Share your thoughts in the comments below.