At a recent dinner party, I was speaking with a friend who had just been promoted to vice president at a well-known New York hedge fund. The promotion was unexpected, involved an immediate 50% pay raise, and came with broad new responsibilities. When he should have been feeling optimistic and excited about his new position, why did he look like the unhappiest person in the world?
This isn't uncommon. In the course of writing Passion & Purpose, I was fortunate enough to meet and interview hundreds of young leaders, many of them "rockstar" twenty-somethings who command high six-figure salaries, are in stable relationships, and have all the career options in the world. Yet, when I asked them whether they were following their passions — really doing what they loved — they would soon describe how they actually felt about their seemingly perfect lives: lost, hesitant, and uncertain. One respondent summed it up by saying, "I don't know what I want to do, but I know it's not this."
Many of those I interviewed echoed her sense of hollowness, a sense that seemed to be largely career- and situation-agnostic. This set up an intriguing puzzle: With all the ambition, choice, and ability in the world, why are these young leaders getting swept away in an undercurrent of unhappiness and anxiety?
The answer is both surprising and unique to this generation. Young leaders face three main threats to their sense of happiness and well-being.
First, they realize that large companies aren't safe options anymore. Read the complete Harvard Business Review blog post.