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youre getting old U R getting old my X: The X-factor in a Gen Y enterprise

Happy Birthday to you, I love youuuuu!!!” My 3-year-old son keeps on singing it although it has been a few weeks now since my party. Well, party… Some sadness came over me that night when I realized I did not receive any ‘real presents’ on MY day. Wrapped in colorful paper to be ripped apart by eager fingers. That’s how every girl wants them – whether she’s turning 5 or 35. “And where is your crown, mummy?” Good question!

When the world celebrated Boss’s Day, my GenY colleagues made me a queen-style crown. My son was very excited when I pulled it from my desk and crowned myself yet again. “What does it say, mummy?” “That I’m the boss and you always have to do as I tell you to.” Wrong answer! For my kid, for the digital natives taking over our offices, but also for me. And that is not only because boss sounds reaaaaaally old.

Like a Boss crown

Generation X: people born between 1965 and 1979. Being born in 1979, I sometimes feel somewhat generation-less, stuck in the middle. Admittedly, I’m certainly not a digital native. I got my first e-mail address at university (1997), wondering why I would ever need one. After graduation, I proudly adopted the X working culture, including handling a never-ceasing e-mail stream on several devices. And I defy labels as a true GenX’er is supposed to. Including ‘BOSS’.

According to the Generation Y Bible (How Cool Brands Stay Hot) media too often display successful 20-something CEOs of their own companies endorsing the ‘you can be anything you want to be’ mythos. Compared with my born-in-the-eighties colleagues, my X genes would make me somewhat less susceptible to such self-imposed pressure to succeed and also to the related fear to fail. My younger ‘teamies’ would also attach more importance to self-esteem and self-importance.

Yes, I have Googled myself once (or twice). But when Google recently announced the personal right to not be found, it felt like a relief merely to have the option available. I also sincerely hate being tagged on Facebook. Although according to http://geboortedaghit.nl/25051979 my song is ‘I want you to want me, I need you to need me, I love you to love me’ – I have always deliberately abstained from social network exhibitionism and voyeurism. I only give in on New Year’s Day and my birthday, to ‘cash’ my share of digital love. Guess it is my substitute for unwrapping presents…

And there it suddenly was, in my face: the ‘selfie with the BOSS’ posted by my dear Gen Y coachees some months ago. Me in the middle, wearing my bossy crown jewels. My colleagues raying of happiness all around me. I recall the speech at the moment of my coronation as if it were yesterday: “Thank you for being a bit of a mother to all of us.” With all good intentions, that would have easily pushed any 30-something lady into her quarterly-life crisis.

Like a Boss selfie

But being a sober-minded X’er, I decided to take it the positive way. It got me to realize I’d rather be perceived as the ‘caring daring’ coach, rather than the ‘bitchy boss‘. And although the generation gap looks far bigger from their perspective (I’ve not been on ‘the other side’ for that long yet), in a way I do cherish them as my offspring. When last an applicant asked about our company – “What is it that makes you love coming here every day?” – the answer was very simple: “Them!“.

And if they want to – my dear NextGen teamies – they can even celebrate me on Mother’s Day instead of ‘Like-a-Boss’ Day next time around. To get used to the idea, I tried my first crowned selfie with my Generation Z kids. Not for publication obviously! It will be their choice to go digital one day. Or not.

Generation X, Y or Z, some things will never change: “To be old and wise, one has to be young and stupid first.” And no matter how young you are, I’m sure the first midlife feelings may appear once you have tried this: http://you.regettingold.com. And don’t mail that one to women on their birthday please!

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