At the 2019 SIOP conference, my MRG colleague Maria Brown led a symposium entitled Preparing for Generation Z. The purpose of the symposium was to discuss how generations may differ, and provide recommendations on managing those differences. It was an engaging session with an overarching message that we don’t hear very often: science doesn’t indicate that generations differ in any hugely significant way, so separating generational differences from life stage differences is critical.
I particularly enjoyed Jennifer Deal’s contribution to this symposium, in which she discussed the differences between generations and emphasized the importance of recognizing life stages. I remember quite clearly Jennifer saying that through all of years of generational research she hadn’t found a tremendous amount of data suggesting overarching differences. She then paused and observed that there was one thing that did concern her about younger generations: resilience. She seemed to speaking anecdotally rather than referencing research she was conducting, but my ear certainly pricked up when I heard this.
Resilience is an interesting psychological construct and it has always fascinated me. Why does one person bounce back so quickly from a failure, and another takes ages (if they ever do at all)? Why do some people recognize and categorize something as a mistake or failure so quickly, when another wouldn’t even consider it a failure? And if Jennifer’s hunch is correct, why is the current generation one that may lack resilience?
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