Ten thousand people in the United States turned 65 years old on January 1, 2011, and ten thousand more will turn 65 every day for the next 18 years as the baby boomer generation ages according to Pew Research. This will create a tremendous leadership gap, as others have noted, but it also holds potential for epic change in the world if the potential energy and competencies of this generation are tapped and directed through a values-driven, transformative process of intentional change.
An “Amplified Life”
Each of us, regardless of our generation, possesses a group of competencies shaped by our experiences and influenced by values and philosophies that express subconscious motives and traits. (See Boyatzis, Goleman, and Rhee.). Activated grouped competencies are catalyzed by biochemical and physiological systems of the neurological and endocrine systems that are, in a feedback mechanism, positively influenced by values-driven behavior. Translated, this means that a healthier, happier life is possible for those who are activated by good values.
A human life energized by virtuous values will transcend self and thereby seek altruistic opportunities that will improve the lives of others. When a values-driven, competent human being is combined with a values-driven organization, the resulting effects will impact hundreds, thousands and even millions of people. This is the meaning of an “Amplified Life.”
Helping Retiring Leaders to Live an Amplified Life
The marketplace of human need is just beginning to meet the tidal front of retiring senior leadership. Baby Boomers come equipped with experience, proven competencies, and more robust health than any previous generation. In short, we are at the cusp of momentous possibility.
To ensure this magnificent moment is fully actualized, retiring senior leaders must be provided the tools, direction and community that provide a generative environment. I believe this is the responsibility of top leadership in our nonprofit and public sectors, but also should be a priority for business leaders who will benefit greatly from older, active consumers. From this will spring powerful potencies that will affect millions of people for the better.
We need a societal awareness of the power and potential of millions of senior leaders living amplified lives. The old paradigm expressed in the term “sunset years” needs to be flipped to a new paradigm expressed as “sunburst years.”
To change this paradigm I suggest the following for our senior leaders:
- Companies, organizations, and public sector leaders should shape a national movement that sparks a shared vision of the impact retiring leaders can have as they transition from their organizational careers to their new roles as values-driven, contributing members of the most powerful segment of society.
- Local communities of leaders should gather with the purpose of encouraging individual and collective growth toward amplified living.
- Scholars, journalists, and practitioners should research and publish a body of knowledge that provides empirical and anecdotal evidence of the potential power within the community of retiring leaders.
- A technology-based set of tools should be created to assist in matching the competencies of values-driven, altruistic leaders with organizations with which they resonant and where they will exponentially multiply their ability to impact the world.
For the generation that forged its identity in an era of radical change and provided the energy that changed forever our national landscape, it is once again time to lead the way to a new archetype of the aging generation; one with values-driven vision and behavior. It is time to become the purveyors of hope and exemplars of the amplified life and provide a compass for younger generations toward which to aspire and strive. It is time to transcend success to significance.
Steve Carter is the President and CEO of The Carter Group, Inc., a relocation consulting and management firm that provides risk and change management solutions in the context of complex real estate projects within the corporate, healthcare, public and higher education sectors. He is also a student in the Center for Values-Driven Leadership’s Ph.D./D.B.A. program, designed for senior business leaders.