The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Nov 222012

I know some young adults in NYC who are crazy about “tough mudding.”  So when I got this email I really wanted to pass it along. It definitely has the Millennial thematic going for it—raising money for wounded veterans and showcasing teamwork and party-style challenge rather than finishing first and doing whatever it takes to win. Yet it also shows plenty of Xer overtones, including the whole super-tough, warriors-never-show-fear line. (Note: I did see one mudder in one video below holding a sign, “It’s OK to Cry.”) I think the video, below, nicely balances these Millennial and Xer notes.

He’s certainly correct that you won’t meet here any Boomer-like young people trying to teach the world to sing.

Anyway, here is Andrew’s brief testimonial:

Hi Neil,

I’m a 27 year old first wave Millennial (1984) and a recent fan of yours.

I discovered Generations last year, and I’ve been slowly working my way through the generational history, trying to apply it to my experiences. I was having mixed feelings about the theory’s validity for my generation, particularly the questions of what it means for my generation if the latest crisis has already arrived (early) and whether my generation really values team work as you and William predicted.

Those doubts were lifted this past weekend, when I attended the latest Tough Mudder challenge in New Jersey.

If you are unfamiliar with Tough Mudder, take a look at their website. This year, 500,000 people (mostly Millenials) gathered to partake in physical challenges all based around the theme of teamwork. Here is their pledge, which they repeat in unison, military style before the challenge begins:

I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
I do not whine – kids whine.
I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.
I overcome all fears.
            —Tough Mudder Pledge



It got me thinking: Half a million (mostly) young people, from a single generation gathered in a field, covered in mud. Woodstock? The parallels are amazing. Except instead of self-expression and spiritualism, my generation values teamwork and physical prowess.

Just thought I would share my experience with you.


Andrew Atkins

Be Sociable, Share!