We had a wonderful time with our Japanese family that visited this month. It was amazing to reconnect and renew the bond that holds us together. The challenge we now have is how to stay in touch once we all go home. Here you see my 85 year old father learning about an ‘app’ that we are going to use as a family to share everything. Hiroshi is teaching Dad how to install, setup and use the app. Gotta love that Dad grew up in a small town in Alabama where there was a party line – meaning multiple families shared the same phone line – and now he can send pictures to Japan, write a post and get it translated instantly…all via a new app. 

People complain that multiple generations in the workplace are causing confusion and organizational challenges. I don’t know that it is a generation gap as much as it is a communication gap. Neither generation understands what the other one wants, needs, expects…so communicaiton fails. They think text, someone else thinks face to face conversation. They think technology, the other one thinks talk to me. They think recreation is more fun, the other thinks keep working hard to get what you want. They are not so far apart as they are working toward the same thing. Most people want to be healthy and happy. Most people want hope and someone to love. Most people want to share their excitement, joy, heartbreak and pain with someone who will listen. We are all people, we just express what we want in different ways. 

I’m proud of my Dad for wanting to learn something new. Many of his age or generation won’t touch this technology because they say they can’t figure it out. He and my Mom know that if they don’t figure out the technology they won’t ever hear from their grandchildren…they value the relationships with that generation enough to step out of their comfort zone and learn a new app. I’m also proud of Hiroshi for wanting to keep in touch enough to be patient and explain the app in a way that the older generation could use it and understand. 

Maybe the real challenge isn’t the generation gap, it is that we don’t value the relationships enough to be patient and learn. There may be a zillion apps for everything from managing money to buying baseball cards or doing your banking, and more are invented everyday. To lead we must let people know we value them, we value spending time with them, we value what they want…there’s not an app for that yet!