Last week, I experienced a trip to North Carolina’s Outer Banks like no other. For the first time in twenty years, I vacationed with a leaderless family. It was a bittersweet feeling; much to my enjoyment, I was not in control, but my mother-in-law, undoubtedly the leader of my wife’s family, passed almost one year ago. Her presence was still felt as my wife and her family and I gathered to celebrate her life and delight in her memory.
I came to the conclusion that Americans isolate themselves from others and their environment. Although this was not the first time I realized this, it was the first time it became firmly entrenched in the second half of my life.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I both took a new assessment – called a Core Values Index (CVI). Because I now thoroughly understand it myself, we will be using this assessment as part of our toolset for clients of onCOREventures in the near future.
Love. This four-letter word is one of the most sought-after and sometimes one of the most feared terms in the English language. Within this assessment, it is referred to as Merchant energy, but I prefer to use the “L word” because it evokes stronger emotions. It is this powerful entity that is my primary driver in life, according to the assessment.
As I burned out of my corporate Life 2.0 experience, I shut the door on many relationships, and I have not replaced them. Because love is such a major influence on my actions, the diminishing of these relationships is tough to swallow. Though this is a dark alley, it has helped me to get in touch with two primary issues for men, particularly in the second half of life:
- What masks did I wear in the first half of life?
- How do they affect the way that we show up in the second half of life?
In the past, I relied heavily on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in looking at my own life choices. When I was 39, I took the MBTI for the first time and I “tested” as INTP. This assessment uses a series of questions to determine preferences – and is said to not change significantly. The key word is significantly. In looking back at my scores in the past – my “I” score, which indicates a preference for Introversion as opposed to extraversion, was very close to being “E,” or Extraversion. My “T” score, which indicates Thinking over Feeling, was very close to “F,” or Feeling. Lastly, my “P” score, which indicates perception over judgment, was also very close.
I am currently in a second coach-training program from IIN (Institute of Integrative Nutrition) so that I have a better grounding in the effects of food and nutrition on mood and health. As part of that program I took the MBTI again – just for “grins” – as they say. My results were ENFJ. Perplexed, to say the least, I “stumbled” on the CVI, which indicated that, my core values were much more in harmony with the ENFJ preference than the INTP preference.
These were slight changes in three of the four indicators, but the difference was that I was “extremely” intuitive versus sensing, so that did not move across the 50% mark and shift to “S”.
It makes sense to me that these indicators shifted as I shifted. It also makes sense that as I removed my “corporate” mask, I show up as more authentic to my true persona. For me, this has major implications on my second half of life.
However, today I want to speak on gender roles. INTP’s like to keep to their options open, they see things as shades of grey, and they look to the big picture. This certainly describes how I lived the first half of my life in corporate senior management. It was fitting at the time, especially as a man; there are many more female ENFJ’s then males, and there are many more male INTP’s than females. However, that was not fitting with my core value system, which is how I shifted to the ENFJ identity.
Did this “shift” occur overnight for me? Probably, but it was at least five years before I left corporate. In fact, the major reason that I left corporate was because I stopped keeping my mouth shut. I now understand what removed the filter, so to speak. As a result, I lost the agency power of being a senior vice president, with all of its perks and financial prosperity. Although, it was a breath of fresh air; for I was finally able to remove an uncomfortable, incompatible mask.
This mask contained all of my corporate relationships, which does not seem out of the ordinary for many successful men. Friends in this working zone often attach themselves to the position. The moment we lose that power, we also tend to lose those companions as well if we are honest with ourselves. If we want to maintain these relationships, we feel the need to live a lie.
In my case, my isolation allowed me to get in touch with the way I value love and relationships, both of which are “feminine values”. This shift led me to coaching others – a pursuit that follows my values and makes me feel truly onCore with my life.
I have begun to form new friendships and relationships that are rooted in my true self. For example, I am on the board of the International Coaches Federation – Pittsburgh chapter. I am responsible for marketing, and I am actually the only male on the board.
From my own life long conditioning, it is my assumption that the other board members see me as a former senior executive offering my marketing experience and expertise, and while I can draw on that experience some , it is not the primary driver for me any longer.
I am in the organization and on the board for collaboration and support from like-minded people that I have a common profession and value system with. There is major opportunity to show up in an authentic fashion for me in the second half of life, because the majority of the women on the board are in the second half of their lives – or approaching it. They are all shifting as well, so we all have the opportunity of crafting new ways of being.
My desire is not to lead now from my own vision, but to foster relationships and cooperation. The fact that people look to me for leadership and vision is a plus, it is easier then to show up and be egoless. And in the second half of life, women are often seeking to assert independence and their own agenda in a more direct fashion. There is room for both genders in organizations and in our family relationships to redefine ourselves and enjoy approaching life differently.
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