Tag Archive: baby boomers

“It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives, it is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

whattodoSome time ago I wrote a note to myself which said “The collective complacency of the baby boomers has been kaleidoscopically shattered.  I wasn’t thinking much about other generations who might be experiencing something similar.  But upon further reflection, it would seem the younger generations might be into their own form complacency.  It’s just that theirs, having different roots, has not yet shattered.  And they have time on their side. 

I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees. Ha!  I was in the forest, on my knees, inspecting pine needles, being my normal self-absorbent-self.  Honestly, in the end, isn’t it always about “how is this going to affect me?”

During that note writing period I was focused on the challenges of creating a new existence – for ME – after retiring from a demanding professional life.  But eventually I realized, once I stopped thinking about ME, that reinvention could be the new reality for everyone. That’s a paradigm shift of classic proportions. Entire industries – music, automotive, retail, telecom, advertising, printing, news media, publishing, among others, were being forced to reinvent themselves.  I, and my recently retired compatriots were no exception.

Somehow reinvention sounded an awful lot like…WORK.    Change and its evil twin, adaptability, are work.  And I wasn’t expecting that.  I suppose I’m like everyone else who is totally absorbed in their career – no space for thinking about that distant future or anything else until anything else is the only thing staring me in the face. 

The brilliant Jeff Jarvis in his ground breaking book of a few years ago, What Would Google Do, warned us that the Internet had caused business “to lose control of so much – brand, message, price, competition, security – but more than anything else, …timing.  The Internet …changed the speed, the rhythm and the process of business and next [would] do the same to government.”

Well…maybe that’s not a bad thing.  Stop.  Is it?  Given the whiplash deployment of recent executive orders in Washington, suddenly I’m pining for the molasses days of yesterday when change was more gradual – we had time to adapt.   Ah, adaptability. Was that what Darwin was talking about?  But did he differentiate between the changes we want, the changes we don’t want…and the changes we need even if we don’t want them?  Do we get a vote?  Actually we did –  Nov 6, 2012.

I’m so dizzy.

I’ve always believed in the law of the pendulum.  When things swing too far in one direction, they will begin to go in the opposite direction.  It’s that mother nature thing. She has a way of leveling that playing field when we mere mortals think we can stack the deck, or take a nap and ignore the obvious outcomes.  Maybe the life lesson is that if you, we, individually or collectively, or our government, aren’t inclined to do the right/smart/efficient proactive things that our representatives are elected to do –  to protect what we confusion2value, and keep things in balance, insure the best future for all – nature does it for us.  Hence, lost jobs, foreclosures, failed businesses, inflation, no economic resiliency, no preparedness for this inevitable correction.

OMG – Don’t you love that term?  People, we’re having a little life correction.  Homes are still being foreclosed,  jobs are still missing, more people than ever are homeless and hungry, cities are closer now to bankruptcy than they were a year ago (See Detroit) and still our government is at a stalemate. It’s shameful.  No leadership there to lead us out of the wilderness.  I’d say that’s enough of a correction. 

So.  If we like all these  changes, that’s a good thing, right? But if we believe that the changes are harmful, what then?  That is indeed the question that has our country polarized.  Half seem ready to accept  (I don’t think for a minute it’s what they actually believe)  a more socialistic society where the haves must take care of the have-nots. The have-nots are given what they need so there is no motivation to go out and do it themselves.  Why should they?  It’s a lovely, idealistic, Kum By Yah philosophy much akin to piling twelve people in a life-raft that only holds six.  You know what’s going to happen, but you can’t NOT do it. So everyone drowns. 

The other half believes just as strongly that the haves succeeded by self-motivation and hard work, and they are entitled to and deserve their success and all that it brings. They are more than willing to do the hard work, but they question the wisdom of those who are capable but not willing to also be self-reliant and accountable for their own success or failure.

Apparently the current culture no longer believes in or teaches self-reliance, capitalistic ingenuity, and independence,  even though study after study proves that without free market competition, the entire system eventually collapses.   Is that what we want?  Our school systems and municipalities are driven by politically motivated and self-serving unions that have no fiscal accountability – hence all the states that are facing bankruptcy do so because they foolishly got bullied into agreeing to provide fantastic benefits which they had no hope of paying for.  They just threw up their hands and hoped someone else down the road would have the courage to deal with the consequences. Whether it’s the state or the federal government, or my family, or yours, it’s very clear.  We cannot spend more than we have.   

Ben Franklin said it so wisely:

“When the people discover that they can vote themselves MONEY, that will herald the end of the republic.”

That is so common sense, I cannot be convinced that there is not some Machiavellian plan afoot to completely dismantle the basic tenants our country was founded upon.  Why else would anyone in the right mind be a party to what is happening in our Government?  At a recent dinner party there  ensued a lively discussion about our corrupted elected officials and one participant commented “Oh well, there’s nothing we can do, they’re all corrupt.”  That can’t be the only response to the problem.

chickenlittleI sincerely believe that free markets function best, but ours have been so manipulated, by so many different factions, how can there be any other outcome but complete collapse, issuing in a world wide economic depression like nothing we have ever experienced.   The decision makers who create jobs and opportunity – the very backbone of our way of life, have had every reliable tool they use for decision making, disrupted by so many layers of government regulation it is impossible to function…and so the inevitable is happening – made all the more clear by the events in Europe. Their socialistic experiment has failed.  Doesn’t anyone grasp that fact or has complacency rendered us all inert?  

Without jobs and opportunity and entrepreneurial businesses to generate the tax revenue to pay for all these lovely free gifts from government, our system will collapse.   Is this glorious two-hundred-fifty-year-old experiment in democracy and self-government over?  There are so many wonderful things about this country that we should value,  it’s hard for me to ignore the alarms I hear in my head. 

I’m numb from the drip, drip, drip of a Chicken Little government that is more invested in shouting about the sky falling in rather than doing something about it.  The whole mess has us so anesthetized  that now I”m sounding like the doomsday naysayers and the Mayan calendar people we’ve heard for the past year.  But tell me please, how many eleventh hour crises can one endure? When did sequestration enter your vocabulary?

Shouldn’t we insist on reasonable, well thought out solutions from our government – solutions that reflect the intelligence our country was founded upon?  Sticking our collective, complacent heads in the sand and expecting that things will just turn out “all right”  all by themselves, doesn’t exactly feel like a wise approach. Besides, my definition of “all right” may be very different than yours.

Darwin was right, we must adapt to survive, but can we please not throw the baby out with the bath water?

I stumbled (as usual, do I ever know where I”m going when I begin to write?) across a great saying at one of my favorite websites.  

You’re either growing or you’re dying.”  

Attributed to Heraclitus as well as Plato and Diogenes, it’s often paraphrased as “Everything flows, nothing stands still,”  or another of my personal favorites, “The only constant is change.”   So why is it that we approach the last phase  (ooooh, that has a solemn ring to it doesn’t it?)  of our lives with the  “Now I’ve got all my stuff and I know where it is so I don’t have to do anything anymore”  mentality?

Things were going along swimmingly in my life; I knew my community –  my work was familiar, gratifying and secure – most of my colleagues felt the same.  We were all comfy knowing what we knew; confident it was all we needed to know, since we had arrived, so to speak.  While I was blissfully wrapping up my career and thinking about retirement I discovered a major flaw in my assumption.  Getting past the learning curve and expecting smooth sailing was a fallacy.  Knowing the lay of the land didn’t guarantee that things would remain the same and I wouldn’t have to work at anything.  Ha!    There is no such thing as arriving.   It’s all just part of a continuing ebb and flow.  Whoa!  Who moved my cheese?

Two recent incidents pulled me even further from my smug assumptions: 

One –  I was watching Selling LA.  (Love to see how the people next door live.)   The featured real estate company had decided that rather than the traditional print ad campaign, they would use social media to market a group of upscale condominiums.   Social Media…ummm, what exactly is that?   I know what Facebook is, but I really don’t understand the relevance, and I only have a vague idea what Twitter is about, but I don’t pretend to understand why anyone would have an incessant need to comment to the world at large, every minute of their day exactly what it is that they are doing.  One could be construed as … narcissistic… ?  Well, you get my drift.   Ask.com’s explanation of social media was a helpful starting point but it  indicated clearly that I’m not relevant.   Okay…after retirement I wasn’t planning to care. 

Two – at lunch with some lady friends from my water aerobics class, when I asked for everyone’s e-mail address, only 2 of the 9 present said they used e-mail.   For someone who has computer with the morning coffee (and have done so more than twenty years,) that’s pretty darn freaky.   So if I think I”m not in touch with the unknown… how out of touch is the group just ahead of me?     

In one breath  I had tripped over not one but two seismic shifts in the known and the unknown (with respects to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.)   Here were two significant generational gaps – in both directions!  The lunch ladies had no desire to know what I knew, and the kids behind me knew a whole world of new stuff that I didn’t know.   As in the technical vernacular, what the heck does a “cloud” do?   But more importantly, I should care about these things?   Don’t start with the “I don’t want to learn anything new.”  Or worse yet, “I’m too old to learn anything new.”  Whoops, there’s that growing/dying thing.

Is relevance important?  In a word, maybe.  Depends.  

That’s essentially the conversation I had recently with a friend who is just slightly older than me, and much to my pleasure, he too remarked about how important it is to keep learning and growing.   He had also observed that his slightly older friends didn’t seem to have any interest in doing staying relevant.  Yep, we were definitely on the same page.  I’m meeting many baby boomers  in the gated retirement community where we now live, who express their dismay over  the “silent generation,”  whose take on retirement is completely different from ours – but so was their take on their previous lives.  Basically, their mantra was  “Don’t take risks, save your money, pay cash, keep your head down, hang on to your job, etc.”  So we can’t base any retirement assumptions on how they’ve gone about it.  They are a contented lot,  having paid their dues, wanting  to sit back in the clover.  Baby boomers have never sat still long enough to rest on any proverbial laurels.   I’m thinking maybe this is a good thing? 

Yes, lots of folks out there  get it, but there are lots more  who are just catching on.  My brain’s file cabinets are overflowing  and now I find  there’s more unknown unknowns.   If you don’t know what you don’t know, you’re in trouble.  But is bigger trouble coming if you aren’t willing to find out what you don’t know?  Learning doesn’t cease just because we’ve retired.  Ummm, back to that growing/dying thing.

Retirement doesn’t mean you’re dead, but it might mean you’re irrelevant.  Ouch, that hurts!  Would love to know your take on the subject. 

Next week:  Finding the best Happy Hour/Early Bird half price menus.  The Challenge Is On.

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