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Evolution

How are your evolving?

Evolution not revolution

I am a member of a generation that wanted to rebel against the establishment and then we became the establishment.  The Beatles got it and sang about us being a group that did not want to really rebel, when they sang “Revolution” in the watershed year of 1968.  For those of you too young to remember 1968, it started with the Tet offensive, which was followed by Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to run for president, the assassination of Martin Luther King in April, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in June, the riots in Chicago during the Democratic national convention, in November Richard Nixon was elected President of the US as the “Peace” candidate, and the year ended with three US astronauts orbiting the moon, reading from the Gospel of John on Christmas.

As a generation, we declared that we (males) were like Peter Pan and would never grow up and would never sell out to the establishment.   As the draft ended and we had families, we realized that we had sold out.  Now, as we “retire” from the establishment jobs and roles that we enjoyed, we have an opportunity for reflection.  As they enter this phase of life, I suspect many boomers wake up and realize that whether they planned for it or not, they are for all intents and purposes retired from the establishment.  For me it has been in the fall of my sixty-sixth year.

I was reading a blog last week from Harvard business review.  It was a post from an executive coach talking about his work with executives who are planning for a new retirement.  This is the area of practice that I created my coaching practice around when I was a young whipper snapper of sixty-two.  Then, I looked at it as a business.  Today it is a “retirement” business which is more like a practice.  I have to run it as a business, but it is not conducted by the same rules.  There are different driving forces at play.

Frankly, looking at the lyrics to the aforementioned song – I now find I finally have “the plan” and it is all about evolution.  To evolve you must give some stuff up and you must add other stuff in.  The challenge is to determine what you want to add in and what you want to take out – how are you evolving?

What are you evolving from?

Life Coaching in Pittsburgh helping others find their path to evolutionary masculine behaviorFor me, “The plan” is all about giving back.  Helping people figure out their stuff.  It defies positioning from a marketing perspective.  And it defies being run as a business.  I think some examples of the things that I have decided not to do are in order.

I am not much longer going to continue with casual business networking, despite it providing me most of my clients for the last four years.  I am no longer engaged in it the way that others are.  I have evolved to the point where I can see that I have a core group of referral partners that I know, like, and trust.  They remain a core part of my support mechanism.

I am no longer actively seeking clients who are young people wanting to grow long-term, sustainable businesses.  I love the ones that I am still working with and I might work with a few more, but it is not going to be my core focus.  To be true to myself, I need to focus on the evolving needs of today’s boomers as they hit “retirement”.  The 65 of our youth is now more like 85.  When we were born at the middle of the last century, conventional wisdom was that at about 65 people were close to death.  Today that is much more like 85.

I am not going to see clients in my home office, especially since I am selling it to move to a more maintenance-free home.  I will see them in a shared office facility, in coffee shops, their offices, restaurants, or, during the summer, in parks or along walking trails.  Steve Jobs used to have walking meetings.  I will also use Skype and FaceTime.

I am also changing my focus.  I want to work with men in their fifties and sixties who want to design a life in which they are not controlled by an ever enlarging prostate gland, fearing ED, and living in the past, but are rather active, flexible, centered, content and wise.  And I want to work with women in that age group who want a new relationship with their male friends devoid of the opposites of the first half of life and focused on their commonalities with a less gender-biased reality which defines the second half of life.  A retirement-era life in which our differences are replaced by a new harmony and coherence.  And you know what – both men and women are going to have to change their approach to one another and get over the pain from the first half of life in order to co-create a better way of living in the afternoon of their days.

What are you evolving to?

We have such potential in the afternoon of life.  If we can find purpose and meaning, it is likely many of us can and will live Evolving to our true nature involves embracing the core energies inside each of us.active lives until we are at least 85.  But the things that mattered in earlier days are gone.  Men, particularly, need to find a new way.  A new meaning.  A new authenticity.  We are not as strong, we can no longer make love four times a night, throw a fastball, dunk a basketball, hike into the woods with massive amounts of camera gear on our backs and hundreds of other things.  In saying this in no way am I saying that women do not have a similar challenge, but I see too many men sitting on lawn chairs at North Park in the summer and complaining about having nothing to do as they slip into a meaningless life.  They need to find a new way of “manning up”.

As men, we have things we never imagined we would have earlier times.  We have wisdom, even if looking for “masculine wisdom” produces an error in SEO tools since it is not searched for. We have experience.  We have patience.  We have humility.  We need to create a world in which masculine wisdom is not a contradiction in terms – we need to be evolving to that.

My practice focus is for men and women who are wisdom weavers.  People that want to weave together an integrated wisdom based on masculine and feminine energies.

To do this, my “retirement project” is to launch a new website and web community using  an integrated technology from Rainmaker.  It will include educational materials, podcasts, media, imagery, writings and forums dedicated to helping people weave wisdom together in an integrated, integral fashion.  It will also offer various life coaches an opportunity to participate in at least six areas:

  • Careers
  • Relationships
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Community and support

What about you?

Want to help change the world and chart your evolutionary path?  Please plan on sharing your story with us by participating in a new series beginning in January on reclaiming your authentic self in the second half of life.  We will be discussing this series during a live webinar on December 2 at 7 – 8 PM EST.  To register for this free event please click on join us below.shutterstock_114969346

Image Credits – Shutterstock

Moving Van

Downsizing – To Move or not to move?

Moving

One of the realities of the afternoon of life is that we are going to move, even if it is to an urn on our grandchildren’s mantle or a hole in the ground.  It is not a question of if, it is a question of when and a question of how.  Many people, as they reach the age of traditional retirement, fight to hold on to the activity level they had.  They like the comfort and the lifestyle so they plod along shoveling snow and landscaping yards far past the point of enjoyment.  Others begin to fall victim to the clear cut effects of an aging body and they let their homes and themselves go to “seed”.  In both cases, the result is often denial of the fact that it is time to make a decision on where and how to live.  And as a result we do not realize that it is time to move on, emotionally and or physically.

Holding on to the past

What “once were vices are now habits” is the title of a song by the Eagles from back in the morning of the lives of todays boomers – or the 70’s for those of you born more recently.  Consumerism, in the form of adding more plants and shrubs to our suburban plots and maintaining properties that were great when the kids were home but are now empty most of the time, is really pointless.  Well, actually more than pointless – they are a time drain and a waste of effort unless the activities still bring enjoyment.

When Levitt built the fist sub-division on Long Island that bears his name, it is reported that he believed that if returning GI’s had to take care of property on weekends and improve their homes, they would not have time to be socialists or communists.  It seems that the fears of socialist ideas that were in vogue in the depression-era America of the thirties were still fresh in his mind and were a real fear.  It is hard to even consider that fear today as we are solidly consumer orientated.

Fast forward seventy years and today’s children of that “greatest generation” are still plodding along and spending countless hours or dollars taking care of properties that have long outlived their usefulness.  Why?

From society’s view it is because this keeps us busy and ensures we are good American consumers.  Watch the TV commercials during sporting events and see the ads for Christmas.  Nothing says “Merry Christmas, celebrate the birth of the son of God” more than a new Lexus.  Right behind that are commercials for The Home Depot and Lowe’s – fix up your house for the holidays. If that doesn’t get you, drink Miller lite and feast on chips and salsa in front of a brand new 4k TV during the playoffs.

What if we moved away from these houses, cars, and gadgets and freed up time for work to change a society gone crazy with consumerism and over extended time commitments. Could we make a difference by moving from individual homes to a community of intergenerational people that could use our wisdom?  Could we establish community with others like us in a fifty-five and over community and perhaps make a difference by working collectively to share our wisdom with others while having some fun in the process?

Why do we hold on and delay a move to a more freeing lifestyle?  We probably do not know what we would do differently.  So we keep on keeping on. I am living through this right now.  I am holding on to clients I no longer want to coach (not you if you are reading this, one of the other guys). I am holding on to possessions that I no longer need (but as I wrote last week, that is being taken care of). I am holding on to chores that I no longer need and never wanted to do in the first place (I hate landscaping).

What can life be like now?

rebirth, vision, second life, retirement, giving back, life coaching pittsburgh

Perhaps it is because we have not allowed ourselves to determine what life can be like now. For me, I have decided I want to do the following:

  • Create a new web based business to help people deal with stress, disease, and interruptions and move toward mindfulness and well being
  • Move to a community where I can be around people my own age that want to spend time with others on community related projects
  • Spend time visiting family – especially my grandchildren – and act as a positive influence in their lives
  • Spend more time being as opposed to doing – which is in harmony with my own human operating system
  • Take some college courses in areas that I never studied because “there was no money in that” – as my grandparents were known to say

So, it is easy for me to make a move – I know what I want to move to.  As I write this, Walter and his friends are blowing away the leaves form the trees around my home.  I am grateful for Walter, really grateful. I live in a forest. I will be more grateful that next year I will not have to hire Walter to do this. And I now know what I want to be doing instead.

How to get startedMove, Simplify, downsize, discovery, coaching Pittsburgh

So if you are like me and find that discovering your authentic self is long overdue for you, I have a thought for you to consider.  I remember hearing about the gravestone of a man named John – it said – “Here lies
John, born a man, died a grocer”. For all of the people nearing retirement and thinking that there must be a better way of living in the afternoon of life, we have a tele seminar  in two weeks.  Join us to find out what is stopping your move and find out what music is still left inside of you to be played. Perhaps it is time to stop working for the “man” and be the man or woman that you were born to be. Perhaps it is time to move.

 

Image credits – ShutterStock

You are not broken

Many people are stuck in victim energy or see others as victims – what if we were not broken?  We choose to remain broken, it is a way of being a victim and not needing to take responsibility for ourselves.  We become our disease.  Oh, I can’t do that – I have cancer. Or we become our limiting belief – I cannot dance, I have two left feet. We can transcend our broken beliefs by channeling the divine through us as was taught by Jesus when he said the kingdom of God is within you. I have been working with John Craig on a new video series. This series of his is an experiment as it is for me.  Working with John has been a gift to me and I hope to produce more work with him in the future.  This first experiment on my part with video has been very enlightening to me.  As photographer I have never liked being in the picture.  This video has allowed me to realize that the potential for this medium is one that I have been ignoring. Enjoy.

 

Launching Your Second Career as the New Retirement

“You can do it alone. But it’s going to be so much harder.”

It sounds somewhat harsh, but author Jennifer Egan hits the nail on the head. Launching your second career venture is not a solo practice, even if you are a solopreuneur. It takes a village to launch your efforts. There is a side benefit to this village: people live longer when they have the support of others, and often the work relationships from corporate go away after you leave the corporate matrix. Creating a work-life balance after leaving your day job requires some creativity as you build your “new retirement” life.

In all probability, launching your venture will require skills that you do not have. When we work for large organizations, there are other people that can be influenced to do what is needed. When you go out on your own, you either have to buy that expertise, develop it yourself, or barter for it.

How do you decide what to do and what to buy? How much of your time are you willing to invest in learning new skills? How much enjoyment do you get from doing so?

When I started this practice, I had the luxury of not needing to live on the proceeds from the business. I am now cash flow-positive from the practice and am in the position to see a clear path towards where I want to go. As I have been mentioning in the last few blogs, it comes down to a question of balance.

I am the type of person that works well in the undefined state of startups. One of my quirks, though, is that I need to understand the framework for the environment, the questions, as well as the tools. Some of those tools are software, some are techniques, some are assessment in the practice area of our business.

In my youth, I rebelled against traditional education. I am, to a large degree, self-taught. Lately, I have been amazed that I have chosen the formal education path over self-teaching more and more frequently. I have taken two formal coach training programs – one in ICF Core Competency Coaching from iPEC, and one in nutrition theory and wellness coaching from IIN. When it came time to learning Quickbooks, I opted for a community college class. To learn how the subconscious can be reprogrammed I took two PSYCH-K training courses.

I have done this because I realized in my first PSYCH-K course that I am an experiential learner. Looking back at high school and college, I aced any class that I showed up at. Simply being exposed to the information allowed me to learn it and master it. So self-teaching for me was dependent on being in an environment where I could learn empirically.

In corporate America, I had ample opportunity to learn from those around me in this way. Self-teaching worked because I had a feedback mechanism where I could collaborate with and observe other people around me. When I left that environment, I no longer had that support or that energy.

There are a variety of ways to get support from others. Peer networking groups, like ICF-PIttsburgh for coaches, are a logical place to go for that. Community College courses, university certificate or advanced degree programs, seminars, distance learning courses are all ways for connecting in person or virtually. Meetup groups are another place to find support. In Pittsburgh, there is one for co-locators where people support one another in looking for a supportive fashion.

It is easier to make decisions on what to make, versus what to buy when you have others to bounce ideas off of. It is also easier to find them when you get out of your home office and talk to others. One of the best decisions that I made was to join a BNI chapter, because it forced me to show up once a week bright and early at seven in the morning,  and it forced me to look for people to refer to others, otherwise known as referral marketing. That got me to network in other places. I, like most people, will work harder for others than I will for myself.

That being said, in launching your effort, I have found that having some type of support system is best. I have also found that others often want to help you succeed, and that people will often help you. You simply have to show up and ask.

The Neutral Zone

One book I have read and re-read over and over again is William Bridges’ book, “The Way of Transition”.   This is a publication that he wrote in 2001 after the death of his wife caused him to revisit the whole process of transition.  Clearly, his close ties to his wife significantly influenced this follow-on book to his groundbreaking work, “Transition.”  The original work was published in the seventies as his wife was going through the ultimate transition.   I endured the same fears as my wife battled cancer last year and into this year.  When I started this blog entry last fall, I could not finish it because I did not know how things would work out for the two of us.  Fortunately she is doing well, but our lives will never be the same again.

Writing about the whole process, Bridges defines four traits of the Neutral Zone – that period after we decide or are forced to let go of something and the time that we create that new way of being.  According to Bridges, a life long – or Life 3.0 long – expert on transitions, the Neutral Zone has four characteristics:

  • Reorientation
  • Personal Growth
  • Authentication
  • Creativity

In speaking about reorientation, Bridges likened it to his dog following him on a walk at the beach.  I love walking along the beach, or the thought of doing so now that I have moved inland. Often, I see dogs lagging behind their owners and then scurrying to catch up.  In my own transition from executive to coach, I was often scurrying to catch up with life as I was thrown one curve ball after another.  The reason pointed out in the book is “we have the chance…to take a step forward in our own development by letting go of a less-than-adequate reality and an out-of-date self-image”

Bridges discusses personal growth quite adequately.  Life changes every day, but we hold on to reality as we have been conditioned to understand it.  As I read his description of the sudden changes that can occur and the optional personal growth, I could not help but think of the concepts that were discussed by Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point”.  I believe, as Gladwell states, that just as ideas all of a sudden catch like viruses, our reality all of a sudden changes.  It is as though we have caught a virus of our own and our life is suddenly different.  We can choose to be changed by this, to grow and thrive by incorporating changes into our way of being, in which case the change is life sustaining.  Or we can fight it, which can “dis-ease” us and ultimately lead to death.  It might explain why so many men have heart attacks in the period of time that they should be shifting from Life 2.0, the householder, to Life 3.0, the elder.  It is in fighting this shift and becoming uneasy that we become diseased.

When professionals, men especially, lose their agency power of being the wide receiver for the Steelers, or the Vice President of Marketing for Google, or a Master Plumber, we often feel lost and we enter the neutral zone.  For Grandma Moses, who invented an art genre in her seventies, she had to give up knitting because she lost her ability to move the needles deftly enough to create, and so she decided to paint instead.

When I tried to commercialize my photography after losing my agency power of being a Senior Vice President of Technology, I was not willing to start over at the bottom of the profession as a “starving” artist.  I was unwilling, in my fifties, to be seen as an emerging artist.  It was too much for me – or my ego – to deal with.  I found that I had to do something more on core with my own experience.  In this way, I was not really starting over as much as using finely honed skills from my career in a new way for a new purpose.

Coaching is something that was a big part of my success in my long management career.  It was not the only part; in fact, I wish I used it more back in the day.  But it was the most gratifying part.  Now that I am two years into the launch process for my practice, I can see it is totally in line with my skills and desires, yet completely different from the way I had to show up in the past.  Yet as I work through the nuts and bolts of the practice,  I have found myself also incorporating my photography love by repurposing existing photography or shooting new imagery to use in the marketing and education activities of my practice.

You may be in the second half of life, and you’re wondering what you want to do to bring the smile back to your face.  Is there something that you used to do really well, but can no longer do because of rules and regulations, or the extreme demands of 24x7x365 work efforts?  How can you use that one skill or pastime to launch your onCOREventure?  Maybe it is software coding for the technology executive.  Maybe it is graphics design for the ad executive.  Maybe it is teaching for the accounting firm partner or sales executive.  If my own experience is any guide, it is not the salary or the agency power that you need; it is the feeling that you are utilizing your unique abilities for perhaps a new purpose and for your own or your clients’ joy. Because let’s face it; back in the late sixties or the seventies, we all said that we would not work for “the man”.   And even if others perceive us as being “the man” or “the woman”, we know that it is just a matter of time before we have to answer, “What’s next?”

Coaching Works

As a member of the Pittsburgh Coaches Association, I will be joining a demonstration of coaching techniques at PNC Park on Wednesday November 14th at 4PM as part of the second annual “Coaching Works” presentation.  There will be many coaches present demonstrating different coaching techniques.  Why should you care?

According to the International Coaching Federation, coaching as an institution is expanding, and breakthroughs are becoming stronger and faster.

People feel more accountable to their coaches than to others because clear goals are set. This accountability leads to the goals being obtained. When clients make a commitment to their coaches, and to themselves, they feel more responsible for making something happen. They do not want to disappoint their coach whom they understand to hold their best interest in their intentions and mindset.  Additionally, just the prospect of having to “own up” to someone you respect about not achieving your goal due to inaction or complacency is enough to get the gears going. The ethics of the ICF prohibit the coach from having any agenda other than the client’s own best interests, even to the point of requiring disclosure of any incentive that the coach has in recommending any other service. This means you know the coaches “agenda” at all times.

Studies conducted by the ICF have shown that social pain is the equivalent of physical pain in its impact on us. Think about that when you consider staying in a job that causes you social pain every day, or in your current relationship that might be holding you back. Does that mean that when you hire a coach you are guaranteed to change your job or your partner?  Probably not. What will change is how you show up in your relationship or at your job, which changes how others interact with you.

Skeptical? Great! We encourage intelligent, critical, observation and making decisions for oneself! Come to Coaching Works and see just how easy it can be for change to occur.  There will be three, 10 minute, laser coaching demonstrations during the event, interspersed networking time with coaches and others. Come on out and enjoy some great food and beverages while visiting eleven coaching specialists in one-on-one sessions.

When you visit, please pay particular attention to the laser coaching demonstrations. Coaching does not have to be a long, laborious process.  It is not therapy. It does not seek to understand the past, but to understand how the past is preventing you in the moment from moving toward the future that you choose for your life.

For more information and to register visit the PCA website.

Massage and Meditation

Yesterday was July 4th. It was a little over one year ago that I had my first massage at a spa. Now, I am no expert on the subject, having lived over sixty years before even experiencing my first treatment, but I can tell you that the experience transformed me. In terms of healing and wellness, the power of touch is nothing short of absolutely amazing. My spa experience last year was the warm up to a Chopra Center “Journey into Healing” retreat at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville N.C. The back to back experiences of the massage and teachings left me altered and renewed at a DNA level. It started my own journey from being “worried well” into true wellness. I have since come to believe that one simply cannot successfully launch a third stage of life venture unless our core body is healthy and well.

Recently I’ve been reading “With Purpose – Going from Success to Significance in Work and Life” by Ken Dychtwald and Daniel J. Kadlec, in which the authors coin the term “middlescence”.  They write that until the early part of the last century there was no term for the period of adolescence, noting that G. Stanley Hall invented the concept. This is correct, yet they failed to acknowledge that Mr. Hall went on to write, in 1923 “Senescence in the second half of Life” which describes exactly what Dychtwald and Kadlec are referring to as this new phase of “middlescence”.  In fact Mr. Hall wrote the senescence book as his middlescence (or Life 3.0 as we call it) effort. So the three authors agree and, in the case of both Dr Dychtwald and Mr. Hall, dedicated their lives to understanding this late life phenomenon of needing purpose in the evening of life in order to feel truly fulfilled.

I do not profess to be inventing anything at this phase of my life. For me, that time is now past. While I share a patent for a technology product in my history, I am, quintessentially, the guy who figures out what new “stuff” is good for. So, true to form, I now ask what do we do with the knowledge we have gained.  Likewise, coaches will often ask clients a variation on the theme of “what would your life be like if it was true for you that the last thirty years of your life would be driven by your passion, gifts and purpose in a unique way that you now have the time, ego, and understanding to access?

Before he died in 1924, G. Stanley Hall, who lived in a Newtonian mechanical world, said “The man of the future may, and even must, do things impossible in the past and acquire new motor variations not given by heredity.”  In the areas of health and wellness, more than half of what we have learned has been discovered in the last five years. That knowledge is still growing and in a few years no doubt more than half of what we know then will have been discovered after I wrote this blog. A good example of such learning is the recent idea that fully half of what we used to chalk up to “hereditary characteristics” is in fact social programming of our subconscious by our parents in the first few years of life and that  it can be re-programmed. In consequence, I believe the biggest “motor variation” we must strive for is a way of accomplishing this re-programing of the subconscious mind to be more in tune and aligned with our core values and selves.

To effect this mental shift, we “lay” practitioners do not necessarily need to invent anything new, we instead must practice the gift of discernment. What is the knowledge level and currency of your “official” practitioner? Is he or she a life-long learner? Many physicians were trained in a Newtonian model to believe that the body is a mechanical structure.  As we know now, such is not the case. Our bodies can be much more accurately perceived as holographic quantum beings, enjoying virtually unlimited potential and the capacity to constantly recreating itself. What we must now accept is that our minds and bodies are inextricably linked. Our wellness, in the mind, body and soul, is dependent upon our core physical body being in harmony with its surroundings. In essence, our body is linked to our way of thinking and being. Put simply, our thoughts become reality. We have seen this in many areas of our modern world, from studies that seek to unravel the power of prayer, in movements touting the limitless capability of positive thinking, and in our fascination with the concepts of empowered, motivated leadership in the business world.

Over the coming weeks and months we will explore how to move from being worried well to wellness. For today, I am going to pass on the two concepts that I took away from the Grove Park Inn. Massage and Meditation.

Yesterday I was catching up on my research into Spiritually and Health and found a DVD on how couples and families can massage one another (our monthly spa trips are simply not enough). I have already shared links on how to get started in meditation but I realize there are skeptics out there. For those of you that are interested, and those of you that are skeptical, don’t take just my opinion. Here is a link to the website for transcendentalist meditation which links other sites proving the benefits you will experience by incorporating meditation in your life.

Mickey Mantle commented shortly before he died at the age of 63 that if he knew he would have lived this long he would have taken better care of himself.  For many people approaching this age, we have new knowledge that can be applied to our way of living in order to bring about healing and rejuvenation.  Many of these techniques and dietary changes take a long time to implement.  I have been working at diet and exercise regularly for the last 23 years since I healed myself from a serious illness using techniques that I learned from an early mind body physician – Dr. Bernie Siegel. This experience has led me to an ever increasing understanding of the mind body connection. The progress of the first several decades of daily exercise and an evolving way of eating expanded exponentially, making a quantum leap, when I began regular meditation and became aware of the healing power of touch.

Earlier this week, I took my ‘young in mind’ – but – ‘old in body’ mother-in-law to a doctor apt. When she was told that she would have to endure yet another procedure, she looked at me and asked if my wife (her daughter) would be available to go with her because the touch of my wife’s strong, bony fingers on her wrinkled and aged hand brings her comfort and energy. This exchange left me thinking that we must not reserve that touch and energy only for times of stress or wait until we are too old in body to try to start truly living the lives we were born to lead. If we are going to live till 90 we must decide what this life will look like. Will we be dependent on oxygen machines or wheelchairs, or will we be living active vital lives.  Deepak Chopra jokes that life is a sexually transmitted disease that is always fatal, and someone once told me that there are no guarantees on a birth certificate. It is far too easy to underestimate the power we hold inside ourselves and the ability we have to share it, comforting and healing each other and ourselves.

Generation 13

No, this is not about the next series on the “House” genre…

In the book “Generations, The History of America’s future 1584 to 2069” published back in 1991, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe make a compelling case that the “Boomer” generation really only goes through 1960 and actually started in 1943. They contend that people born after that year comprise a different generation which extends from 1961 to 1981.  When I first heard of this, I was unsure that I agreed with them, probably according to conventional wisdom, because my spouse, born at the end of the baby boomer “traditional segment”, is in the same generation as myself. Accepting this new classification places me squarely in the “older generation.” Something my spouse has probably long suspected…  However, the more that I think about it, the more I tend to agree. This “thirteenth generation” to come around since the English speaking settlement of North America is markedly different from the boomers.

Boomers are idealists, while Generation 13 is reactive. I have intuitively known this since the early 70’s when first looking back at 1968 through the lens of Kent State and Watergate. For boomers, 1968 was a defining year.  Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, along with Robert Kennedy.  Riots took place in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention.  The year began with the Tet offensive, along with Apollo coming back from the orbit of the Moon, bringing color photographs of the Earth from Space. I remember thinking that we looked so small.  For many of us, this was the beginning of the end of our idealism. Granted, many such death blows would be dealt in the years to come, but perhaps none so powerful as this humbling reminder of our fragility and ultimate inconsequentiality.

Pop music went FM in 1968. In Pittsburgh Jim Quinn played bubble Gum music (who can forget Sugar, Sugar – no matter how hard we might try). The AM station KQV targeted an ever younger micro-bopper music set while over on the FM side acid rock was being played to boomers so that we could escape Nixon, the “Peace” candidate.  We realized that if Nixon was the best chance for a peace candidate, we are all hosed.  I remember driving back to CMU from St. Margaret’s Nursing School and reading the billboard “This time vote as if your whole world depended on it.” Seriously?

In retrospect, I have always known (but not always understood) that people born in 1961 and later were reacting to our outrageous behaviors, reacting against feminism, reacting against protesting the war (funny now that I joined that reaction when my lottery number came out as 301). As the new generation grew and matured, they reacted to our sexual excess; though this potentially was more of a reaction to the worldwide outbreak of the nightmare of Aids as they entered their twenties and thirties.

So if you are in generation 13 and still reacting, ponder this: How will you cope with the state of the world as you enter your fifties and plan for the future? How is that economy working out for you? Does the US and European Sovereign Debt figure bring you much comfort?  I’ve often thought the boomers put their head in the sand in the eighties…it’s time to retract our ostrich ways and allow the sun to shine on issues we’ve successfully ignored for decades now. Boomers born before the Berlin wall went up, before the Cuban Missile Crisis, before JFK was executed might be just barely able to hang on by their fingernails, retiring in a semblance of the way of the “greatest generation”, but I would not bet on it.

If you are in Generation 13 (as two of my children along with my spouse are) and are still dreaming of a traditional secure retirement, heed the words I often heard as a child and “forget about it!”  One of the best lines in television, from the HBO miniseries on the 101st Airborne division, “Accept the fact that you are already dead, then every day is a gift.” Deepak Chopra jokes that life is a sexually transmitted disease that is always fatal.  For those of us that are in Generation 13 (and I apparently married into that generation for better or worse) we need plan B.

The careers we selected in our youth either no longer fit or simply do not exist.  The dream of the “good life” in retirement is gone.  When (not if) the sovereign debt bubble bursts, there will be no more pensions, no more iced drinks on yachts, no more processions of white shorts and  pastel polo shirts in an endless sea of green golf courses. Forget Greece or Spain…is California too big to fail? But all of this doom and gloom is not to say that we cannot create a new concept of the “good life.” In fact, that is exactly what we must do. This choice, to redefine who we are, what we stand for, how we want to live, is our birthright.

Soon we will not be able to exist in the same way that we are living today. What exactly are we going to be dong to support ourselves? It does not matter who wins this year in the election…our nation is broke. If the government couldn’t simply invent paper that has supposed value, we would be declared instantly insolvent. We need to figure out how we want to live in the post industrial world, who we want to be living with, how we spiritually ground ourselves and how to become as healthy as possible…if we hope to survive.

Did we make a difference?

I have been researching the third stage of life, what I call Life 3.0 for some time now. A trend which I am finding consistent is that the “reporting” on what “boomers” are doing with their lives is centered around “senior stuff.” This gives the impression that we are solely focused on creating systems, products, and programs to take care of frail, brittle, or fat and incapacitated dithering idiots as they play out an endless loop of remembering the past and float uselessly through their remaining days on Earth.  Things like elder care shopping and enrichment services which will benefit our even older “greatest generation” outliers still hanging around and will serve to sustain us if our children (assuming we had any) don’t step up to the plate to care for us in our late years.

Do we really think that the generation that invented the VCR, cell phones, the personal computer, video games, the iPOD, the iPAD, the SUV, etc. is ready, willing, or able to go to go gently into that good night? Do we have no choice now but to become all caregiving – all the time?

I have written about the Shift, sharing that most of us spent Life 2.0 doing what we must do for our children, and that it is a natural and necessary thing to Shift.  But what if we had always lived a life OnCore? Some of us, like Bob Dylan who just awarded the Medal of Freedom, have never strayed far from the path we set together in our youth. He, and a handful of others, have served as a constant reminder, a voice in our heads whispering the truth while we move sedated through the Matrix. Perhaps we have not truly lived in the full expression of these inner values but many at least have remained true to ourselves in the way in which we approached or attempted to shape our reality. Do we then fully Shift? As I’m now learning – maybe not.

To explain this concept further – I am a product guy. My first major product was the creation of an IT organization and the resulting infrastructure of a retailer. My second stint was a series of software products, my third was the creation of an Internet Based product, my fourth was my photography. Now I am creating a product around coaching and the services needed to support Encore Entrepreneurs in creating their own ventures.

Have I really shifted? Absolutely yes in how I access my core values and apply my innate strengths.  But maybe not so much in what I do with them.  Frankly, I have always been operating in my sweet spot. If not, I would never have been as successful as I was.  So what about boomers that have, like me, been very successful in Life 2.0? What are they going to do now when they are focused on giving back to society?

For example let’s take a software engineer who created video games for a living in Life 2.0. What will she do when she thinks about helping people live a better life?  How will she remain relevant to her world today?  Remember the late sixties? Everything had to be “relevant.”  Life has always been, and forever will be, about relevance. So what is relevant to our engineer today as she ages?  I don’t know, but she certainly does and what she creates when combines her gift of software engineering with her passion and purpose, will be amazing and gratifying to both her and to society. Something tells me it will be outside the limited scope of those currently reporting on the state of the elder union.

Why will this happen?  Because our engineer is retaining her relevancy. She is keeping active. She is remaining connected to her environment. She has changed her diet and has taken up meditation. She does not trust that the establishment would take care of her – she  never believed the “older” generation.  Growing up in the fifties and early sixties, she was told to hide under her school desk in the event of a nuclear attack. As if that would seriously help the situation! She, like most of us, never believed that that generation would be leaving the word in any kind of stability. Hell, she never thought she would be alive at thirty, figuring the planet would be in a nuclear winter by that time. Suddenly finding herself in her thirties, surprised to be still alive, she started a family and entered the matrix in order to provide for them. Now, the children are grown and time is ripe for leaving the matrix. It’s time to stop cooking meals for the kids and start crafting tools for a new reality.

It’s my role to help our engineer, and others like her, define that new product or venture, take it to market and help solve the real problems we are finding in our world. Like Jim Kirk says at the end of Start Trek Generations “Did we do itDid we make a difference?”  We are a generation not interested in being in the Nexus. Hell no we won’t go….into retirement!

Disposable

Are males disposable?

About a year ago, I listened to a very well done series called the Evolutionary Man Summit.  Michael Dowd, a former Unitarian Universalist preacher, that I had the pleasure of hearing in person a few years ago, comments in the series that men are raised to be disposable.

I grew up with movies portraying men storming the beach in Normandy, read The Red Badge of Courage, and was generally encouraged to play football and sacrifice my body for the good of the team.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and I can still remember the movie with the orchestra men playing as the ship sunk. These men, along with the rest of us, were conditioned to be disposable. Not a single man I know would question the concept of “women and children first”. It is simply a given that men must “man up,” play the role of provider, and if need be, sacrifice themselves for the “weaker” members of society.

For generations men have gone off to war, stuffed our feelings deep inside of us, work long hours to provide for our families, and then at the age of 55, 60, or 65 we are told by the people we long served that we are no longer required. Our children are grown; our wives have gone on spiritual, economic, or educational journeys and are now independent and much better suited for a softer, kinder, gentler, more cooperative world than we are. We have spent our lives driven by purpose and industry, yet now there are no roadmaps, no markers upon which to define our next steps, no way to claim our progress. In short, we are left drifting in a society that seems to suddenly have no place for us.

At the exact time in history when collaboration and cooperation are becoming the requirement, male baby boomers are now able to embody those tenants thanks to lower hormone levels and reduced strength caused by the natural aging process.  Yet most of us have no idea of how to change, becoming bitter and lamenting what we used to be able to do.

At this time what are the choices? Do we become more feminine, more care giving?  Do we become bitter, resentful, “curmudgeony” and say *&(^ off to the world? Do we bore people with stories of how life used to be?  Do we become brain dead with alcohol and escape?  Or do we re-invent ourselves because in our hearts we know that we are not disposable?

I believe that the generation of men who first became supportive of equal rights for minorities and equal rights for women must now embrace the concept of equal rights for men.  We must acknowledge that we have the right to do what we want to do for ourselves.  The self-limiting problem with this idea is that we feel guilty. We have internalized concepts such as the glass ceiling and the exploitation of women. We have come to believe that our gender was responsible for the creation of the patriarchal society in which we now live.

But man alone did not create the patriarchy. Men and women co-created it. As Michael Dowd teaches “no group of men got together and said lets create monogamy!” It is time for men to “man up” and create a world in which men and women are both responsible for and to one another in partnership. This must include a man’s right to do what he feels is right for himself. The right to identify and follow his purpose, the right to live on core with his true being, and not as society tells him he must live. I believe that the only thing stopping men from doing just that – is other men.  Men do not like confronting other men and admitting that they like the ballet, or find “chick flicks” entertaining, or enjoy a trip to the art museum.  Bring up that subject here in Pittsburgh and the conversation will shift to “how ‘bout those Steelers” faster than Madonna can change her identity.

Life 3.0 for men is all about owning the shift in values that has occurred and accepting that life is different now than how it used to be. It’s about saying “I am now finally going to own and enjoy my life.” The key is to have the courage to find a new path, a different way of being, and not being afraid or embarrassed to find and then to own it.  I used to be a senior executive and that was very rewarding, both financially and for my ego. Now I am a certified professional coach, which is a lot less financially lucrative but much more personally gratifying.

As a coach working with men and women looking to find their core beliefs and build an authentic life that can be enjoyed well into their eighties and nineties, I first had to become willing to say to other men that yes, I am a coach. I had to be okay saying that I work with spiritual beings in a human existence working to have a gratifying and fulfilling life.  Why was this difficult for me?  Quite simply, because I was conditioned by my family and friends to believe that only sissies go to church and spirituality is a fairy tale. Because of this mentality, I started to focus only on the business ventures that we can create and not the adventures that we can live in all of our ventures; be they business, volunteer efforts or our personal lives. It has been a process for me to move past this and realize that I am a spiritual being. It’s a process I ask my clients to go through now as well to truly get in touch with who they really are, and to find out what they really want.

So to people like me that have been disposable for fifty or sixty years, it is now time to claim your special place in the universe. It is time to discover exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life and then go do it. My guess is that your true identity is not as being your wife’s personal shopping partner or playing golf with friends who talk incessantly about how great they used to be. It is time to do something bodaciously interesting and enjoyable for only one person – YOU.  Find a way of finding it – it is time to stop “keep on keeping on” and start leading the life you were born to live.