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Your Life Purpose: Rethinking It?

We’re privileged to work with people through several organizational perspectives, and by integrating them,  we have a sharper understanding of what’s important to people today.   We’re seeing people of all ages challenging career and life-style decisions that are made, and looking for new answers.

Through Age Brilliantly, we work with adults of all ages who want to lead fulfilling lives in today’s life-stage and future ones, and seek more information, inspiration, tools and support from peers, experts and resources to make better planning decisions. Through Presentation Excellence, we work with executives making important business presentations to clients, investors, management and employees. Through Vistage Worldwide, we work with company CEOs (often $5-500M firms) who are challenging company practices as well as their own desires to continue in the company.

As Lauren Weber noted in “Workers Wonder: Is My Job Relevant?” Covid-19 has exposed the fragility of life and the prior assumptions we made when we made career decisions; the brutal killings by police has exposed the systemic racial biases in our society and mobilized the Black Lives Matter movement. Both are forcing people to rethink what they want for themselves and others, and how to get it.  People are asking, “Does my work matter? And do I matter?”

In Reflections In Crisis, McKinsey & Co. shares a number of interviews that may resonate with  you. Imagine you’re in the early stage of your career and family, and often spend hours commuting to work and to clients. Because you’re on the road, you engage caretakers to take care of our young children – which makes you feel guilty because you know you could do a better job if you only had the time. Then, the lockdown comes and you find a way to juggle your schedule to provide quality care for your children and get your work done, because Zoom allows you to communicate without commuting. Should you go back to the old way of life or integrate how you attend to the different Age Brilliantly essentials of life (in this case: relationships, health, purpose and passion)? 

Creditcards.com (June, 2020) released a study in which 82% of the people in lockdowns reported not wanting to return to going back to work 5 days a week. (35% don’t want to return at all!) So, if you’re challenging your prior decisions, you’re not alone.

As more people share with us their perspectives, insights and decisions, we’ll share them with you. Please share your thoughts, by using the Purpose Forum on AgeBrilliantly. It’s the wisdom of our entire group that will help each of us make better decisions.

Beware of Cognitive Biases, Especially Now

In times of great change and uncertainty, it’s important that you take the time to think things through.  Daniel Kahneman made that point in his classic “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.   Especially when under pressure, we often use shortcuts or heuristics to reach the goal quickly. One set of these are cognitive biases.

In a recent blog, Seth Godin’s blog recognized his own use of a cognitive bias. He asked: “How many moons in our solar system?” Then, he did a quick calculation: “with 8 or so planets, how many moons in total?

My guess, when challenged, was 22. I figured Earth had one, rounded up, etc.

It turns out that it’s more than 200. Saturn alone has more than 80 moons.” 

He recognized that he fell victim to the availability bias – relying on information that’s immediately accessible, rather than look at the total picture. “We assume that our neighborhood is like every neighborhood, that our situation and experience is universal. That’s rarely true.” In his wisdom, he shared this conclusion: “Embracing that on the path to empathy is a competitive advantage.”

At this time of twin crises, this is especially important. We need to address the pandemic and its consequences – we want people to be healthy and safe, and open our economy; we need to end systemic racial prejudice and brutality, and use our resources to help all people thrive.  And with no-one sure what’s the best strategy to take, we need to be on our guard to avoid simple answers that may be wrong.

That’s why I decided to share his story and bring to your attention 12 Cognitive Biases, so you can catch yourself and your team when you’re about to make them; this way you can avoid negative consequences.   How many do you make? Which is the most common? Share with us!

Lifelong Learning: Are You Doing It ?

How are you using the extra time you have at home, now that you don’t have to travel to work? One answer from many of my CEO members is that they and their families are increasing their dose of online learning.

Most of my clients, CEO members, and friends are, like me, lifelong learners. We have, what Investor Business Daily calls, “a beginner’s mindset”.  We’re motivated to learn new things, and when time permits or when we’re under stress and need a positive distraction, learning something new is a great option. Today, there are countless online programs, including MOOCS with professors from top schools, available. 

As we move from 2019 to a new normal, we all need to adopt a beginner’s mindset when exploring the many changes that will occur post-pandemic. As we’ve been collecting people’s projections, forecasts and  predictions for how society will change, it became obvious that many of these people are lifelong  learners constantly asking why things are the way they’ve been and how the can be different. Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, adopted a beginners mindset when he wondered why computers and music couldn’t be made portable.  Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, did the same when he wondered why sales database software couldn’t be in the cloud, instead of on hard-drives. Both created new products and transformed industries.

So while you’re still spending more time at home, unleash your beginner’s mindset and learn something new that can propel you to new adventures, knowledge, wisdom and/or innovations.  Then share with us what you’re learning and where it might take you!

How to Make Digital Transformations Successful

Technology, including artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing, has become central to how every business competes. Yet many initiatives fail. Why? Greg Satell, who leads Innovation Excellence, reports that McKinsey found that less than a third of organizational transformations succeed. A major reason is that  leaders often forget that digital transformation includes human transformation and that’s where you need to start. Organizations get blinded by the “gee-whiz” aspects of technology, don’t focus on clear business objectives, scale too fast and then declare victory too quickly.

He gives 4 pieces of advice to avoid failure:

  • Focus on people first, technology second
  • Establish clear business outcomes
  • Identify a keystone change
  • Treat transformation as a Journey, not a Destination.

For details, read the article.

Whether you’re pitching an investor opportunity, a powerful marketing plan, or internal digital transformation – the key is to create an ADAP presentation: be Audience-driven and make it an Authentic Presentation!  That’s what we’ve been telling you for over 20 years.  

If you’ve managed a digital transformation, share with us how you presentation facilitated or detracted from success!

Ready to Jettison the 3-Stage Aging Model?

It’s time to upgrade your mindset about the aging model and acting accordingly.

If you lived at the beginning of the 20th century, where the average life span was just over 40 years old, the basic aging model consisted of “childhood”, with a focus on education, and then “adulthood”, with a focus on family and work.  By mid-century, as people were living into their 60s, we added a third stage, “retirement”, which meant retiring from work to appreciate (a few golden years of) leisure and eventually life.

When the 21st century started, people were living into their 80s, and most people assumed that meant the third stage was extended. Then, as people started looking at their lives, this third stage became confusing. Increasingly, people approaching “traditional” retirement age, don’t want to stop working if it gives them identify, a sense of purpose and/or access to additional income to do more things during this stage. They stay in their jobs longer or start a F/T or P/T “second act” with new jobs, as entrepreneurs, or engaging in “encore careers” with non-profits, etc., so early thought leaders hungered for a new word for what’s happening:  rewire, refire, reinvent, etc., and even “unretire”. A better approach is to jettison this entire way of thinking and build a new framework for adult aging that recognizes current trends.

In the 21st century, today’s young adults will lead an “elongated life”: possibly for 100+ years. We need to update our mindset as to possibilities of how that life might unfold. In The 100-Year Life, Gratton and Scott make the point that instead of three stages of life there will be many more – and not all will be linear. Just as we added a new stage called adolescence between childhood and adulthood (when students attended secondary schools and colleges), additional stages will be added to adulthood. Data on Millennials and GenZ shows that they’re using their early 20s (a stage they called Juvenescence) to explore their life options.  As a result, early-adults are more likely than prior generations to change jobs early, finding that they don’t like their first (or second or  …) choice. They’re postponing, marriage, having children, buying homes, etc.  All of which will change their life trajectory – and affects macro-economic and other issues.

For instance, based on our changing interests and passions, we may want to start new careers and hobbies. In Becoming Brilliant, Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek project that children born today are likely to have as many as 10 careers. That means they lifelong learning will become a mainstay of their lives. As the demands of our knowledge economy and automation require increased specializations for jobs, we will go through more transitions as we move from a career, location, family-relationship, etc., to another and another and another. Triggers for transitions include relationship changes in marriage, divorce, empty-nest and death of a loved one, as well as changes in one’s health, finances, and life-purpose.

in Identity and the LifeCycle, Erik Erikson proposed 8 relatively linear stages of development; yet he acknowledged that the order might vary depending on circumstances. During our ‘elongated’ lives, stages vary even more. In one relationship, two partners raising a family may alternate between who is in the producer-stage vs. the rearing-stage; in the next relationship, the partners might choose to do it differently. This means, we will be spending more time in “transition periods” to figure out what we want and how to get it. Instead of thinking of these as “gaps” or “sabbaticals”, they should be viewed as GROWTHH™ time (Goal Re-Orientation with Time for Health and Happiness). A perfect time to retool!

In sum, unless you’re already in the last stage of the three-stage aging model (i.e., retired from work and focused on leisure), it’s time to update your mindset and recognize the great opportunities open to us during a multi-stage, elongated life. For those of us teaching children, it’s important to explain that the three stage model is unlikely to work for them as they age, and prepare them for their world. It starts by identifying the purpose of your elongated life and takings steps to achieve your goals.

We’ll focus on that and the implications of this mindset for leaders of the “5-generation workforce” in future articles.  Share with us your thoughts, so we can incorporate them in future articles within our Update Your Mindset series.

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