My travels along the way …Millennials, take the Initiative!

So much has changed …good? Bad? Neither, just different? I was talking with a neighbor the other day who mentioned planning a trip to Hilton Head, SC. I always smile and chuckle when I think of my trip to Hilton Head. My one and only trip there and although I loved it, there has just been no time or opportunity to go back.

It was my first business meeting. I was maybe 24 or 25 (ah, yes!) and living in Chicago. Getting to Hilton Head is not that easy – then or now. Fly into Charleston and then decide if it’s a puddle jumper to the island, rent a car and drive the bridge, or sign up for a (dreaded) shuttle service. Remember, this is pre-Uber.

My company trusted me to go to this meeting and represent them with all the other BIG players in our industry. I wasn’t going to whine about transportation, or ask for someone to layout a plan for me. It was part of my responsibility to figure it out. Actually, it never occurred to me to have someone else figure it out. Decide …puddle jumper? Car rental? Or, the shuttle? Done.

On the plane I noticed the man next to me and another across the aisle reading the agenda and material for the very same meeting. With that, I introduced myself and we all began talking about the meeting, who we knew, the value of the meeting, and next thing I knew, I was invited to drive with them to the Island. Although I had a plan, I cancelled it (pre-cell phone), and took this one as it allowed two people to get to know me before walking into the meeting. The meeting started that night with a social reception, and now I had people with whom I could talk when I arrived, and they could introduce me to others in the group.

The second reason I smile when thinking of this meeting is that I was the ONLY woman at the meeting – the only woman representing a member company, and it remained that way for several years. I am pleased to say that I cut my chops on my own initiative and wish that was instilled in more people today. There’s a real sense of satisfaction on reflecting back and saying I figured it out and it was all good. And even when it wasn’t all good, I still figured it out.

I read a lot of stories about millennial in the workplace and their wants and expectations. There is very little talk of individual initiative. Teams are great in problem solving. They create an environment for group-thought, especially when they are diverse and everyone brings a different problem-solving skillset and style to the table. Yet, the reward and self-satisfaction of a job completed using your own initiative can’t be beat.

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