As we wind down the year, it seems an ever-growing number of companies want to know how to \u201charness the power\u201d of the millennial generation.\u00a0 In fact, Google reports that business searches for \u201cmillennials\u201d are 11% more frequent than \u201charassment,\u201d and twice as popular as \u201csupervision.\u201d\u00a0 And what those searches turn up is sometimes not very flattering to millennials.\u00a0 Articles, videos, and podcasts describe millennials as lazy, unfocused, and indulged.\u00a0 To be fair, authors usually couch these descriptors as perceptions, not truth.\nBut it strikes me that there\u2019s a lot wrong with this analysis. Labeling a group and assigning characteristics to it goes against everything good leaders (and civilized societies) have pursued for at least the last hundred years.\u00a0 And yet, we don\u2019t hesitate to jump to conclusions about anyone born between 1982 and 1995.\u00a0 Sure, we\u2019ve had the baby boomers and GenX, but never has the frenzy of generational branding been so universally accepted, since it\u2019s equivalent to \u201cmillennial profiling.\u201d\u00a0 Can you imagine attending a lecture where the objective is to educate you on how to compensate for the short attention span of a certain religion, race, or gender?\u00a0\nHere\u2019s the unwritten truth:\u00a0 Most of the characteristics assigned to the millennial generation are held by most of us.\u00a0 And it\u2019s not a factor of the decade of our birth; it\u2019s a factor of the age we all live.\u00a0 Let\u2019s take another look at these millennial traits:\n\nMillennials are described as technology-obsessed. But, I\u2019ve seen many of my fellow GenXers and baby boomers swiping their phones in the checkout line, ordering from Amazon, and driving their upscale cars while texting.\u00a0 This isn\u2019t a \u201cmillennial\u201d thing at all.\u00a0 Sure, millennials are more tech-savvy than their parents, but that\u2019s been true since the wheel.\u00a0 Does anyone doubt that millennials\u2019 children will be more tech-obsessed than their parents?\u00a0 But here\u2019s a thought: \u201ctech-obsessed\u201d may actually be the opposite of what they are: many millennial trends are about making technology less intrusive, to allow for more human interaction.\u00a0 Prior generations interrupted their lives to watch a TV program at a certain time, but now \u201cStranger Things\u201d fans fit the show into their lives, not the other way around.\u00a0 So which generation seems tech-obsessed?\nA second attribute given to millennials is that they care more about the world impact of their job than prior generations. Here again, we observe this trend across all age bands, probably because the civilized world is working its way up Maslow\u2019s hierarchy of needs:\u00a0 instead of worrying about mere survival, many skilled workers now have the luxury (and information) to select jobs based on their contribution to a better world.\nPerhaps the most cited trait of millennials is their supposed penchant for instant gratification. But does this apply to millennials or to people of all ages?\u00a0 Examples abound that contradict the correlation of instant gratification with only millennials: Viagra, Botox, and flash mortgages are targeted at non-millennial generations for obvious reasons, yet few accuse these more mature individuals as instant gratification addicts. \u00a0Today\u2019s technology has given all of us the ability (and desire) to get everything faster, so maybe that makes us all millennials.\n\nWhat can leaders learn from this?\u00a0\nIt\u2019s a lesson we\u2019ve already learned, over and over: we should resist the temptation to generalize based on any external characteristic (like age).\u00a0 We should instead recognize that every person is an individual, and their age is but one influence over their feelings, choices, and behavior.\u00a0 If workers, friends, and neighbors sometimes cluster based on age, it doesn\u2019t mean they\u2019re all alike.\u00a0 For years, diversity and inclusion specialists have strived to help us understand that making snap judgments based on outward characteristics is hard-wired into our instincts, but it should not drive our consequential decisions or behavior.\u00a0\nSo, here\u2019s a new year\u2019s resolution for all of us: Stop searching the Internet for secrets about \u201cmillennials,\u201d and instead get to know the individuals within all these labeled groups.\u00a0 Acknowledge that we\u2019re all here together at the start of 2018, and our best hope for making it to 2019 is to harness the power of all our different birth years and backgrounds.