How often do we critique Gen Y for not being more like we are – we being the Baby Boomers? How often do we hold the critique inside us, but fear the direction they are taking their lives? How often do we have those deep and meaningful, all well-intended, conversations with our friends about their decision-making?
Lots of times. And in my professional development workshops, concerns about the attitudes, behaviour and mindsets of Gen Y are a constant source of discussion and comment with leaders and managers – again usually Baby Boomers.
How little faith we have in these young people we have created? How little ability we have to get out of our own way and see them through their eyes, see what motivates and inspires them? How easily we have forgotten what it was like to be their age? And why do we find it so difficult to understand that the world that we grew up in is not the world they are living in?
Out there are hundreds of Gen Ys doing amazing and inspiring things. I have 3 Gen Y kids who motivate and inspire me every day.They do things differently; they think differently; they have different motivations, but I try and get below the surface of all that because that’s where the richness is.
Only 20 Years of Age, but She’s Left A Legacy.
Kaileigh Fryer is one of those inspiring Gen Y young people. She is no longer with us because she died in a car accident in Sydney twelve months ago now, just short of her 20th birthday. As her parents sorted through her things after her death, they found a journal. She had written a bucket list of 50 things she wanted to do before she died. It had all the usual things in it that you would expect a young person might want to do – sky dive, visit an African Safari, run a marathon, sail the Caribbean.
But it was the rest of her bucket list that inspired and motivated hundreds of people. She wanted to
- donate blood,
- make a difference,
- be a mentor,
- open an orphanage,
- host a fundraiser,
- adopt a child,
- have a coffee with an old person and ask them about their life,
- dance in the rain with someone she loved,
- inspire someone,
- host a Christmas dinner for the homeless,
- plant a tree,
to mention a few.
One of the other things she listed was that she wanted to make a list of 365 things that made her happy and take a photo of them on every day of the year.
So moved were her family when they found Kaileigh’s list that they copied it and gave it out at her funeral. The young people who attended put it on social media and it went viral around the world. A Facebook page was set up and young people have taken Kaileigh’s bucket list and made it their own. She has inspired so many people – young and old – to live their lives fully, not just for themselves, but for others.
What Kaileigh has also done is challenge the non-believers, those who question the motivations of young people, of the Gen Ys. Her life has ended, but who she was and what motivated her lives on. More than that she has inspired so many other young people to live their lives purposefully and meaningfully.
So this is my call to my Baby Boomer colleagues and friends. Send your children to Kaileigh’s Memorial Facebook page to check it out. Then sit down with your bucket list and review it. What legacy will we leave? Would the world be inspired by reading our bucket list?