This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 28, 2001

Senior Power

For years we assumed that once people passed a certain age that their value was seriously diminished. At that point, they were expected to retire from their jobs, sit in rocking chairs, and wait for the Grim Reaper. Not anymore!

Senior citizens are asserting themselves. They've decided that they do not want to be put out to pasture. They still have many years to live . . . and give. Many want to continue working far past 55 or 65. With longer life spans, people can now build another 20-year career.

People in their fifties and sixties remember what they learned from their parents. "Always be gainfully employed," was the message. "If you are not a productive member of society, you are a parasite . . . and that's a terrible thing." The lesson was repeated over and over, almost as a mantra. Now these citizens are approaching the age when retirement is an option. Many will reject the idea, wanting to remain productive. The thought of not working is foreign to them, uncomfortable, unacceptable.

So some people will not retire, but continue in their work. Others, especially those in government jobs, will retire from one career and quickly enter another. Some will start their own businesses, while some will join other organizations where they can do the kind of work they really want to do. Many will join smaller companies, often serving as mentors and coaches to owners, senior executives, and others who have not yet accumulated their knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Still others will become teachers, passing along what they have learned to young people in schools, colleges, or apprenticeship programs.

Healthcare institutions, leisure travel groups, and retirement communities have been waiting for the Baby Boomers to age. In eager anticipation, they are like vultures waiting for their prey. They're watching the pre-Boomers, expecting them to lead the way into lives of reduced productivity. Since people are now aging more slowly, these hungry organisms will wait much longer than they expect. Seniors today will be more active for more years than any preceding population cohort in our history.

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