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Learning from the millennials

Posted on January 15, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

“Youth will be served,” it has often been said, and that adage is being played out on Canada’s business landscape.

An Angus Reid survey published in October noted that members of the millennial generation — those born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, though definitions differ — are embarking on entrepreneurship at twice the pace of the Canadian average. A news release this week from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation says by 2028, three-quarters of the Canadian workforce will consist of millennials.

Millennials, the release points out, are driven less by a desire for financial success than by a preference for flexible, fulfilling careers.

“A large number of the businesses opened in Canada are by a younger demographic and this is only expected to grow as the millennial generation takes a dominant place in the workforce,” Julia Deans, the CEO of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, said in the release. “This is a new generation of small business owners who want something that is more than just a job, they want to do something that is personal and matters to them, and they’re not afraid to take that leap.”

That lack of fear is certainly a good prerequisite for anyone wanting to start a business. Statistics vary with regard to the odds of businesses succeeding, with some views holding that 50 per cent of new businesses fail within the first year. But suffice to say the failure rate is high and therefore daunting.

Apparently many millennials are undaunted at the prospect of potential failure. That’s a valuable quality. Too often the fear of failure discourages us from attempting things that hold potential rewards — not necessarily monetary rewards, but also those that will simply help us to grow as individuals.

Louis E. Boone, the late U.S. academic and business professor, once advised, “Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.”

H. Stanley Judd, the author of “Think Rich,” among other books, urged: “Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.”

Along that same line, film director and actor Woody Allen said, “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”

Writer, speaker and productivity consultant Denis Waitley noted, “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat.”

And from self-help author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins: “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.”

Generally speaking, it’s the older generations that teach the younger ones. But when it comes to not letting fear of failure be an obstacle that holds us back, this is a lesson we can perhaps best learn from the millennials.

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