The Adventure in Staying: My Plea to the Wandering Workforce

From job to job, from relationship to relationship, from hobby to hobby, my generation wanders about looking for purpose. There is a constant unsettling because we have such an insatiable craving for “new”. And while we also deeply long for life to have meaning, we have resorted to looking for it instead of creating it. This is especially true in the workplace.

I love my generation, and there are many qualities in Millennials that I find incredibly redemptive. However, I believe one area that this propensity for wandering has grievously compromised is loyalty.

I am passionate about our generation discovering how profound our relationships and careers can be when loyalty is applied rightly.

Maybe you're a Millennial saying that you're already committed at your current job. And my response to you would be, "okay, but are you loyal?"

This is a critical distinction, because loyalty and commitment are vastly different.

Commitment is transactional. An employer, for example, agrees to pay you a certain amount of money in exchange for your expertise, experience, and contribution. If you show up to work on time, perform the duties within your job definition, and consistently make productive use of your hours, you are committed. Fulfilling commitments within a relationship is like putting money into an account with no interest. You’re keeping the account positive, no doubt, but there’s no strategy for what this account (relationship) could grow to be in the future.

Loyalty, on the other hand, is an investment. Let’s say that you start to come into work early during the busy seasons or you set aside your own time to learn something new that will help fill a gap and move the company forward. You are starting to deposit value into the company that exceeds your contractual job agreement. Loyal people are constantly looking for ways to invest beyond what their commitment is worth right now so that the relationship has exponential value in the future.

If every relationship is just a transactional exchange of responsibilities, then life is supremely shallow.

What I’m so desperate for my generation to see is that you may be under leadership right now that is ready and waiting to pull you into a more meaningful relationship and venture with them, but they need to see reciprocal signs that you’re willing to invest at that same level. They are waiting for you to lead before they make you a leader; they’re waiting for you to fill that gap before promoting your position; they’re waiting for you to learn that skill before they give you that raise. Remember, this is an INVESTMENT, not a transaction. That means you have to give something before you will see the return on it.

This is a huge change in mindset for Millennials. We're are so used to getting an immediate return on time spent, whether that’s a quick text message reply, or a like on a photo just posted, or an Amazon package delivered the same day. We’re very well-versed in transactional relationships but severely lack the foresight that values investment.

If we want our work to have purpose beyond just a timesheet and a paycheck, we have to dig deeper. We have to go above and beyond our minimum commitments and start devoting ourselves to the success of the company and our leadership.

Maybe you’re at the bottom working an entry-level job. Good! Perfect opportunity to give it all you’ve got. Nothing will open up more opportunity in your life than being faithful in your present position.

So, be intentional, work hard, stay awhile, and give your loyalty. These are the long-term investments that will elevate the quality of your relationships and invite you into the life-changing, meaningful adventures you’ve been after all along.