What kind of Elder are you - will you become?

2016-05-09 20:04

Elders have a hugely important role to play in modern western society – and there are 4 types of Elder. No, that is not true! There are an infinite variety. But it does help to look at some broad characteristics.

The Artisan

   The people who get things done! They are the people who know how things work, they know how to cut through the "red tape." They are the teachers, lawyers, accountants and crafts-people. They take care, do things right and are meticulous with detail.

Their gift is their skills and their “hands-on” understanding of how things work. Their value is in Mentoring and passing on their "how to" skills. Their role is to maintain standards of quality and service.

Google has given us “instant expertise” – but there is no substitute for experience. What is your skill, what knowledge do you hold?

The Architect

   The executive, the self-made man, or woman, the entrepreneur. Their lives are ruled by their drive to make a difference in the world. They are prepared to sacrifice all around them, friends and family, in pursuit of their dreams.

Their gift is their vision and their drive. Their value is their ability to see the bigger picture and to make things happen. Their role is to sit at the right hand of tomorrow's movers and shakers and to hold the question "we can - but should we?"

The bigger picture is clearer over time – history has a habit of repeating itself. What have you seen, what is your longer term view of the world you live in?

The Artist

   The innovator, the maverick, the experimenter. They are the writers, musicians and artists. Their lives are ruled by their passions and they often crash and burn. Some rise like the Phoenix, many die young.

Their gift is their creativity and their courage to give things a try. Their value is to help people think outside the box and find unexpected solutions to problems. Their role is to help us find ways to adapt to a changing world.

Throughout your life some things have worked, some have not – both are valuable. What lessons can you take from your past and bring into someone else’s future?

The Activist

   The protester, the crusader, the knight in shining armour. Their lives are ruled by their principles and they will stand by them against the odds.

Their gift is their moral courage and preparedness to “stand up and be counted”. Their value is to bring awareness of injustice and exploitation and to expose the “lie behind the promise”. Their role is to be the moral compass for their community and for society.

Dictators come in every walk of life – and they feed on our fear to say “enough”. Where in your life have you found the courage to say “enough”?

Each of us is a combination of all 4 types, and under different circumstances, different characters will show up. So in a day you might; help a teenager change a flat tyre, stand up to a bullying co-worker, come up with a great new idea for raising money for the church and help a friend plan a career change.

Most of us would allow such a day to pass un-noticed – just another day. But the people we have helped will have noticed. The remarkable thing is that most of the time we don’t have to do anything. We just need to be there – ask a few questions, listen, be a sounding board.

“You can tell whether a man has knowledge by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions”. Mahfouz Naguib

So as we enter old age we need to re-define ourselves and we can do that by noticing the little things we do, the questions we ask. Our sense of worth will come from our attention to others.

“The ways in which these Elders will share their wisdom and skills with the larger community will be as unique as each individual and as diverse as the population. What we new Elders will have in common, however, is a commitment to continual growth, deepening spiritual connection, passion, discovery of purpose and service. We will realize that our wholeness, our wisdom and gifts, and the well-being of the larger society and our planet itself, cannot be separated. Current and soon-to-be seniors can play a critical role in shaping a positive future if we choose to not withdraw as we age, but rather to nurture ourselves and our communities by claiming our roles as conscious Elders.”

Ron Pevny: Centre for Conscious Eldering

Alan Maguire is a Retirement Coach. His dream is to see a Culture of Elders in modern society where the Heroes of today become the Elders of tomorrow. His Elders Journey is a guide to creating that culture.

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