‘Snowflake Generation’ is a term used increasingly to describe young adults as being more prone to taking offence and less resilient than previous generations, or as being too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own.
So, as Psychologists, we’ve found the recent commentary about England’s success in the World Cup, extremely interesting. Much has been said about the players’ age being a key difference between this and past squads. In fact, Gareth Southgate has selected the youngest and arguably least experienced squad of all those who headed to Russia; with an average age of just 26 and average caps of 20.
So, based on the age profile, potentially a team of ‘snowflakes’ competing in an extremely public and high-pressure environment. How would they cope? Well so far so good! And perhaps some of their success can be specifically attributed to their youth and inexperience:
- As a team, they are particularly motivated towards achieving success because so many of them are still early in their careers
- They lack the ‘psychological baggage’ of previous squads that have, for example, missed critical penalties and failed to progress to the later stages of the competition
So, no apparent sign of the lack of resilience often attributed to their generation in these young sportsmen. In fact, if we look at the key traits of a resilient person we can see that Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions tick all the boxes:
Comfortable in their own skin with a strong sense of self. Able to deal positively with criticism and rejection. Dele Alli epitomises a confident player and Raheem Sterling has certainly weathered his fair share of criticism.
CONTROLLED AND COMPOSED
Able to manage their emotions without becoming overwhelmed. This generally means a lower level of anxiety. We can see this composure in Harry Kane’s approach as captain and Jordan Pickford’s ability to move past letting in four penalties to become only the second England goalkeeper to keep one out in the World Cup.
A level of realistic perseverance is a key trait of resilient people. Using Sterling as an example again, as a boy he would head to training with QPR straight after school and get home some eight hours later following several lengthy bus trips.
So… the Three Lions are currently not only flying the flag for England but also for the much-maligned Millennials. Long may it continue and we wish them all the best for their next match. But, should things not go to plan, it looks to us like this squad will cope just fine with the inevitable disappointment and soon bounce back. Euro 2020 anyone?!
Work Psychology Group (WPG) is a firm of organisation psychologists and we support organisations in developing their internal resilience using a variety of resources. So, if you’re interested in building the resilience of your organisation’s key players, then we’d love to hear from you.