Posted on : 12-01-2011 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized
Tags: Our Elders
It’s time for us (especially in the U.S.) to come up with a new name for referring to our elders. Okay, okay, I’m not quite in the elder-ranking yet (well, in some cases I might be) but I have lot’s o’ friends and family members who are so how our country in particular treats the aging and future wise women and men of tomorrow is pathetic with a capital “P”! Just today, I realized while brain storming some ideas with a coaching friend of mine about a new business that combines coaching and person touch errand running that even I used the “labels” of elderly and home bound in a limiting description of what could be a wide audience of people (elder or not) who could use my services. I was horrified!
The coaching friend who I am working with now as a guinea pig to try out some new and different coaching approaches just turned sixty in December. What I also realized this morning as we were talking was how particularly beneficial I find her help (in addition to adoring her tremendously!) because she is a “wise woman” who has walked the path that I now find myself in today and is able to identify and alert me to dips in the road or choices that I can make. There’s a whole country of baby boomers who are 65 and younger now who we are missing out on using their well-earned wisdom because of our learned prejudice about our elders. There are also members of the Greatest Generation like my mom, dad, aunts and uncles who we can benefit greatly from as well if we are willing and able to become aware of our own blind spots about people who are older than we us. How did this happen? Was it really with Abby Hoffman in the 60’s or have we been moving in this direction for awhile just in smaller more hidden groups than today?
Anyone with some knowledge of NLP knows how powerful our spoken words can be, so to change our perspectives we must first change the way we talk about things, people, ideas. There are many cultures such as Native Americans, many Asian cultures, many Hispanic cultures and many African cultures to name a few that are not only respectful of their elders but seek out their advice and wisdom as people who have lived on this planet for a good long while. The fact that I’ve even chosen this topic as a bone to pick is pretty funny since I’ve always been a kind of “question authority” kind of person, but here I am picking this bone!
It’s especially humbling when I talk with hiring people who are younger than me who admit the prejudice that their employers have about hiring older workers. I know when I was recruiting and managing accounts in the late 90’s and early 00’s that there were several clients who we’d really have to work at convincing them to consider an older contractor if that is who we had to submit as the best person for the job. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity the last few years to meet these kind of prejudices head on when I returned to school to complete a degree. I’ve met and made some great friends with students who are much younger than me and enjoy them very much as I think they enjoy me. Somehow I feel like I’m kind of an “Ambassador” of sorts for my generation. I’m showing some people who may never have had the chance to interact with a specimen such as myself, who is the same age or older than their parents, as a peer.
This afternoon I attended a birthday luncheon for one of the neighborhood “gang”. Charles just turned 81 and is recovering from brain cancer. I was the youngest person there by 30+ years in some cases but I had a great time. Yes, I sometimes have to let some of the ways my friends talk about things fly over my head out of respect for them, but we there were so many things we could talk about that made me feel happy and grateful to be their friend.
How do you talk about the wise women and men in your life?