Why Millennials are Blind
I am proud to say that I belong to the Millennial community; a community of ambitious individuals, catalysts of global change, the next big sharks. We are passionate, we are intelligent, and we are goal-setters, trend-setters. I can’t imagine myself surrounded by a different environment of people. With these people I thrive. We are a generation that doesn’t rest in the face of our goals; we never take our eyes off the prize. This phenomenon is rare and it is a sort of gift, you could say. But a small distinction needs to be made between the “success” that all of these qualities may bring and true success. I will clarify that distinction now.
Our goal may be anything. It may be to become a CEO, get on next semester’s dean list, or even go on a Spring Break vacation next March. Whatever the goal is, the essence of our nature makes us look at it straight in the eye and forget about everything else. That is what makes us Millennials. We get what we want because we know we can. But we forget a very important thing of life as we feed this way of being. In the midst of our persistency, we get too caught up as we strive to reach the goal. While we work and work and work to get there, we forget to stop and breathe and look around for a moment to appreciate the journey.
I learned this yesterday while I was climbing a mountain in a rural farming area of Switzerland, a few hours from Zurich. As I was assiduously climbing, my legs burning, and my breath shortening, I made a life-changing realization:
The most rewarding thing about the mountain hike is the sudden wonder that strikes you when, out of breath and almost out of energy, you take a leap over a hill or around a bend and stop to witness the exposure of a brand new sight, like opening a present. Except it’s not a gift but rather the view of a mountain, a river, or a forest that was hiding, and would have remained hiding from you forever, should you not have been aware to notice it.
Life is like a mountain hike. If you are only looking towards the top, you will miss the wonderful sights along the way and they will remain hiding from you forever; you will give up the chance to take in so much knowledge that could present itself in the same way a brand new sight exposes itself to you on the mountain climb when you take the time to stop and look. The best view is not necessarily the one you have from the top.
Our goals are only external fulfillments. For them we work hard and make sacrifices and lose sleep. But the beautiful sites along the way are internal. They teach us about ourselves and they generate wonder and awe and happiness. We must learn to live our lives feeling that every step is the destination, as opposed to “what we have to go through” to get to where we want to be. We might find our lives to be a lot more meaningful.
Maybe the saying “don’t take your eyes off the prize” is not such a good paradigm.