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What matters now?

This is the question Dr. Marilyn Joyce asked me and it brought our conversation to a screeching halt. But let me back up first…

As many stories go, a young man or woman is fed up with the confines of the existing system. Repressed, unhappy, and fired up about the injustices of the current situation, the hero sets out on a journey.

Conspicuously absent from the stories are the fathers or mothers of said heros or heroines. It seems middle-aged characters hardly ever get a part—unless they live in the spirit world, that is. Only dearly departed parental figures get playtime in the story.

And luckily along the way, there always seems to be a wise man or woman who encourages our hero or heroine to examine his or her heart. “Go deep inside and find the answer within you.” A few cryptic riddles may be added to keep it fresh, even if they only make sense later on in the storyline. Armed with this wisdom, the main character’s quest continues.

In our times, we call a person who is on a quest a disruptor. When the disruption is successful, we change the term to innovator. Need evidence? Just look at Facebook, Twitter, Über, Google, PayPal, eBay, etc. The list goes on and on.

All innovations and, indeed, all changes come from a place of dissatisfaction with the existing. It starts with the idea that what is happening now is not ideal, and there has to be a better way.

Each generation shakes its head when the next generation comes along. My mother thought my generation had lost their values and endangered itself with all this technology, a lack of manners, and women going to work. My grandmother accused my father of plotting to kill my mother when he suggested she get her driver’s license. My daughter thinks my dance moves are old fashioned, and I think her generation is…

The loop is truly endless. This has become so clear to me.

As generation after generation moves forward, individuals tend to become complacent and less flexible. We often prefer to endure our own status quo instead of changing with the times, because change feels like the bigger burden. Moving, switching jobs, starting our own business, letting go of bad relationships, picking up the pieces and trying again…it’s hard. Which is why in my private coaching I am working with a lot of 50+ who may have missed a few signs along the way, and now they are seeking my advice to figure it out ASAP.

The other side of my business is where I mentor Millennials who have fabulous ideas but not enough wisdom and experience to understand how the infinity sign works.

And herein lies the opportunity for humanity. Strangely, we (the older generation) expected we would hire Millennials to work for us. Yet, we seem to struggle to fit them into our existing molds.

Because our mold works so well…

Let’s take a breath and look at what we’ve done to ourselves and our systems. We have succeeded in creating a harsh and competitive world with little space for enjoyment or individual recognition. We have created a disposable society with questionable values.

My ex contacted me and confided that just two years before his retirement, he was just laid off from a Fortune 100 company. He had become too expensive to keep on the payroll, and he was considered too old anyway. Two more years—imagine!

Most of us are racing to a goal that only a handful can ever achieve. Our systems are clearly broken.

We have managed to chew through the finite resources of our planet and are just now slowly waking up to what we’ve done. We work and work and work, are driven to perfection and feel guilty when we enjoy a weekend off.

And now comes along more disruptors to take apart this monster of a system that we passively let happen. We should celebrate that this new generation wants better workspaces and that they want to experience life and enjoy it more! Really, that’s what we should all want.

And this is where my friend Dr. Marilyn Joyce comes in. She’s realized that the stories of people like me, and people like you, should be captured in a wisdom database. Our stories can fill the role of that wise man or woman who comes along and reveals the important kernels of life once we come out on the other side.

I find it truly liberating to realize that we are but a speck in the circle of life. The innovations we see now are rarely new ideas, but they are improvements on existing ideas. Each of us has a place in the circle, whether it’s the youth are challenging the middle-aged who have become complacent, or the wise ones who recognize the patterns and share their wisdom.

And those are my words as you go into the holiday season. Let’s cherish each other’s contributions and embrace ideas as well as wisdom. There is plenty to be thankful for.

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