The youth is relational, as my buddy Mark used to tell me. What they really value are the many actions and connections that you build with them. Engaging with young people can be exhausting but like any type of human labor, it is worthwhile for those who see themselves as agents for change. I believe and value change, when done right.
There is little doubt that emotionally investing in young adults can be a daunting task but the flip side of it is that it can be quite gratifying and pay big dividends in the long-run. Let me say this: 18-25 year-olds value the few meaningful interactions they have with others before their desire to acquire technological artifacts. They are hungry for relating with people, not technology. I’m convinced about that. How do I know? They tell me half of everything because I choose to invest my emotional time on them.
By smiling, being present and showing your face at events they care about, by surprising them and creating with them, you can earn the privilege to be inside their inner circle and prove to them that you do the things you do because of them. There is no technology out there they can buy that will do this for them. They love that but more importantly, they admire that. You are what they need and want. People.
So, what are you going to do today to be more relational with the youth? Are you going to be more emotionally involved with them? Are you going to engage in more off-line meaningful conversations with them? Maybe what you really need, as Seth Godin would say, is to engage in emotional labor for them.
What I know I’m not going to do is to ask google for an answer. I’m going to follow what my heart is saying that I must do. I’m not looking for any reward — My goal is simply to connect and make a difference. But that’s just me. How about you?