Generation Z, often criticized for being perceived as "soft," actually possesses a unique set of qualities shaped by their advanced technological environment and plethora of opportunities.
Is Gen Z softer than previous generations?
Absolutely, just as we're softer than generations who had to live off the land, hunt without guns, farm without tractors, etc. Just as Technology breeds comfort, it's nearly impossible to create a set of circumstances that would recreate the environment that forces resilience out of necessity vs someone whose environment gives them no option. But, if you want to raise a champion, you'd better figure out how to do it.
Do you have any clue of what I had to do to get here?
These powerful words from Jay Z and Eminem's "Renegade" encapsulate the significance of perspective, particularly when we consider the inspiring journey of athletes like Giannis Antetokounmpo. While some may enjoy the comforts of privilege and choice, it is nearly impossible to compete with the resiliency of those who have faced immense challenges without any options. Giannis, hailing from humble beginnings in Greece, utilized basketball as a way out of adversity. He didn't have the luxury of choice; he had to work tirelessly to forge his path to success. His journey serves as a poignant reminder that individuals who have experienced struggle firsthand possess an unparalleled determination and drive. Their resiliency, born out of necessity, propels them to reach new heights and inspires us all to appreciate the value of perseverance.
The Influence of Technology and Comfort:
Gen Z's upbringing in an era of technological advancement and comfort has provided them with a distinct perspective that distances them from traditional notions of struggle. Constant access to technology and an emphasis on mental health have contributed to a shift in their outlook on life. While this may be perceived as a lack of resilience, it is crucial to understand that their experiences are shaped by a different set of challenges.
The Rise of International Talent:
Nikola Jokić the reigning 2x (should be 3x) MVP, and NBA Champion is from Serbia, and has often cited his upbringing and experience in a war torn country as what brought him perspective and resilience. With so many players willing to quit when the time's tough or transfer schools instead of facing the fire, the players who are unbreakable and able to go toe to toe with adversity are the ultimate winners.
The increasing number of international athletes excelling in the NBA is a testament to the resiliency and perspective displayed by the new generation and of how "comfortable" life has gotten in America. The world is hungrier. Many of these athletes come from backgrounds where resilience was a necessity due to adverse circumstances like war and poverty. Their success highlights the importance of resiliency and perspective in achieving greatness, emphasizing that individuals with greater incentives and fewer comforts quickly gain ground.
Options, Choices, and the Ability to Quit
Gen Z has access to an array of options and resources such as AI tools and social media, enabling them to make choices that previous generations did not have. This newfound ability to quit is not indicative of softness but rather a reflection of the expanded opportunities and the luxury of exploring different paths. However, it is important to recognize that resiliency is often forged from the absence of choice.
Some have the option to work for play money, others have to work to eat. Now imagine going up against someone who's trying to win a game for their survival. Your opponent is prepared to die for a better future. When our worst experience is someone else's normal, they're able to navigate stress smoothly where we may crash.
Social media has revolutionized the way we connect and share experiences, but it has also created an overabundance of wealth, luxury, and seemingly perfect lives. The platforms are flooded with images of opulence, extravagant vacations, and glamorous lifestyles, leaving little room for glimpses into the perspective of struggle.
The truth is, struggle is not easily or willingly shared on social media. The absence of struggle on social media distorts our understanding of reality and hinders our empathy towards those facing adversity. After all, struggle doesn't garner likes, attention, or romantic dates, making it an overlooked aspect of life that's only celebrated after victory.
Broadening Perspective and Lowering the Resilience Floor
Instead of labeling Gen Z as soft, it is crucial to focus on broadening their perspective and lowering the resilience floor. By exposing ourselves to experiences that highlight the challenges faced by previous generations, we can foster a deeper understanding of resilience and appreciation for the opportunities they have. Appreciation for everyday conveniences is best cultivated through exposure to different lifestyles and hardships.
It's one thing to know what hunger is, but to actually feel and experience it creates an entirely different understanding and response.When we give our children everything without intentionally lowering their resiliency floor, we inadvertently contribute to the problem.
Sacrifice and struggle are not the same, and resilience cannot be bought. By shielding them from discomfort and hardship, we deny them the opportunity to develop the inner strength necessary to face life's challenges head-on. True resilience is built through the willingness to inconvenience oneself and embrace sacrifice, teaching us that the things we truly want in life often require perseverance and determination beyond mere convenience.
We may be sitting at the same table, but if you had a clue what it took for some of us to get here you'd understand one person's hard day is another's every day, yet they still figured out a way to show up, hungrier than every, and they cannot wait to begin.