For centuries, “X marks the spot” has referred to the location of buried treasure. But that X has new meaning for folks like me who are part of Generation X. It’s referencing where we are stranded – stuck between the Baby Boomer stalwarts and the Gen Y upstarts.
We are eager to learn new technology when it means staying one step ahead of the youngsters nipping at our heels. And we are able to translate the use and importance of that technology to an older generation fully embracing a reasonably successful past.
Gen X certainly has its flaws, but we hold a special place in the workforce that is difficult for the generations on either side of us to comprehend. Many Boomers aren’t as comfortable embracing technology and we often must force the issue. Meanwhile, the Gen Y folks often see us as a roadblock to implementing technology at the breakneck speed they seek. But with many of us serving in “middle management,” we have to slow them down lest they completely scare executives into a fetal position, warding off technology as some sort of corporate doomsday device.
Serving as a translator and conduit between generations isn’t easy. There are days when you find yourself frustrated with both generations. But those tend be balanced out by the thrill of serving as a translator. Convincing a Boomer to try something new and seeing their joy in taking a chance on something again and succeeding is a thrill. And helping a Gen Y’er slow down rather than rushing headlong into the same mistakes a Boomer made years before is rewarding.
I suppose, then, that perhaps X does still mark the spot for buried treasure, or at least a nugget of insight now and again. You just have to keep digging for it.
Ari B. Adler is a professional communicator and strategist with experience as a newspaper reporter and editor, as well as a government and corporate spokesperson. In addition to freelance consulting, he serves as communications administrator for Delta Dental of Michigan and is an adjunct instructor at Michigan State University. You can follow him on Twitter at @aribadler and read his blog at Here Comes Later.