You cannot be what you cannot see. Why the 50+ also need inspiring and accessible role models!

During the pandemic my dad spent a considerable amount of time creating a book of his family’s history which he subsequently gave to us as a present this Christmas. The book is full of wonderful photos and anecdotes of family members most of whom I never got to meet including my great grandfather – Joe Blight.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered in one of the newspaper clippings included in the book the following sentence:

“I cannot retire, I have to have something to occupy my mind”

Joe Blight*

Across time and space, I felt connected and inspired by him!

As many of you may know, I’ve recently written and published a book on rewriting the rules of retirement based on my co-author, Mike Mister, and my extensive research and experience of the issues working with experienced professionals transitioning out of organisational life into their encores. Joe’s statement highlights our own beliefs that having a purpose and sustained focus which requires you to engage intellectually is fundamental for healthy longevity and a fulfilling encore. And yet, the dominant current norm and model of retirement simply doesn’t align with our findings. Current messaging and accompanying imagery around retirement highlights it as a period of life to:

Put your feet up and relax,

Play golf; and

Spend time with the family

(if you don’t believe us, just check out the greetings cards for retirement the next time you find yourself in a card shop!)

Our findings are that this approach is not really fit for purpose in the context of a healthy 100-year life** – we need a new paradigm!

A critical part of achieving this new paradigm is the need to shine a light and celebrate accessible and inspiring role models (celebrating the ordinary and not just the extraordinary) who are actively reinventing retirement through living a purposeful, fulfilling encore. We consistently highlight the importance of role models to younger people so why as we age do we stop seeing the importance that role models play for us?

To this end, in our book, we have included six different case studies of professionals who we have identified as role models busy reinventing retirement. They are inspiring yet accessible professionals who have chosen not to follow the well-trodden route into a traditional retirement but instead have crafted fulfilling encores! Our aim is to shine a light and demonstrate the art of the possible. Ultimately, we would like to see so much more of this across the board (watch this space!) to inspire experienced professionals who may be searching for and/or struggling to find those relatable and accessible role models for their encore stage.

It’s taken me many years to find my own accessible role models who resonate deeply with me. As I’ve entered my 50s, it’s become even more important to keep on looking and being inspired by role models to help me craft and live my own fulfilling encore. I realise that there is a world of difference and distance between my great-grandfather and me, but even from that space he inspires me and so he now firmly has a place in my list!

If you think you or your organisation could do with some help to work through the issues raised in this article and transitioning into fulfilling encores from organisational life, we would love to hear from you! 

* Joe lived to a ripe age of 91 (despite having a cigar in his mouth most of the time) – he got great satisfaction from running his own boat building and hire business.

**Profs Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott

#coaching #businesscoaching #midlife #transitions #midcareer  #fromworklifetonewlife

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