I am one of those famous Baby Boomers. We are the generation that seemingly had everything going our way. Some people think we are, for the most part, selfish and have made fortunes at the expense of our children. And predictions are that we will burden the health care and pension systems to the point of bankruptcy. True, there are a lot of us coming through the life cycle at the same time. We have always liked to “stir the pot” just by being who we are. Our parents had great hopes that we would exceed their living standards and continue in their footsteps to build a better world for our children. History will be the judge of whether we have achieved either of these goals. I cannot speak for my entire generation, but I can share some thoughts from the perspective of an Aging Boomer.
First of all, I am quite content to age. In my life, each decade presented new and exciting challenges: university, marriage, choosing a career, becoming a mother and returning to school mid-career. At the same time, social and technological changes were occurring at an exponential rate. We were all running to keep up – and loving every minute. Still, I find today more compelling, more vital.
Second, I am ready to pass the torch. Just before I transitioned out of my career, I had the privilege of working with Lloyd, a member of Generation X (those born 1965-1981). Our debates over generational issues were intense and invigorating. Both of us knew that we were in transition. The crucial point – how best to accomplish the hand-off?
It comes down to a relay race, where members of a team take turns running. Success is a team activity. Handing over the baton carries the greatest risk, especially since the hand-off must occur within a slim window of opportunity. The stakes are high for both competitors. To win, they must trust each other implicitly.
My message to the next generation: accept the torch with enthusiasm. This is your time to lead and determine the course for your generation and those that comes after. You have the energy, the courage and creativity to accomplish great things. Be courageous, and mix compassion with a bit of audacity. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once advised, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”
One last thought! It’s not over, just yet, for this Aging Boomer. I’ve have set sail and am heading out into open waters…there are more adventures waiting…