Thinking is a horrible thing, it forces us to look at our present realities and make decisions.  Most would probably prefer to take each day as it comes, others may retreat into an even more passive reality and there are those that take action.  Some may even question why action at your age when ‘you should’ be taking the time to enjoy life.  My retort, since I’m in that group is that I have always enjoyed life.  For me, at least, my life has been fully committed to allot of different things, not the least of which has to improve on the lives we have.  It was point out recently that I act bold and critical, to which I agree.  But those that would agree with this assessment are dealing superficially and without giving thought as to why.  Early in my working career I was an auditor, and as auditors our apparent role is to find fault with things.  When this eludes us we don’t feel elated but become a bit cynical and believe that things can’t be so right.  As we often discover there is a much bigger issue that exists than the jubilation which we are seeking to have.  This forces us into a mindset of ‘happy path thinking’ and not the realities of the all so common ‘sad path of life’.   When I think of my recent critic I see ‘happy path’, the ‘popular’ and the one that others will gravitate to as a result of position, stature and physical attractiveness.  What I also wonder is when these present day virtues will play out, because they will.  Society is not so kind as to allow a forgiving heart whether even when strongly defended by results provided over a course of years.  I wonder at that point where they will go, will they accept realities, slide into despair or stand solidly to defend their position as a member of the elder community.

PASSING THE TORCH

Every cinematic production always has the leader passing the privilege of  leadership to someone else.  Usually this is passed as a result of impending death and the readiness of the replacement to accept the responsibility.  They aren’t always ready but what they show are the virtues of leadership and committed boldness.  But this is all in movies with a smartly crafted story line that permits for a sequel to be played.  This is our human thinking that there will always be the next chapter and that next chapter will go to illustrate that main characters ability to achieve and overcome.  Subordinate to this the question of doubt that goes unfulfilled from the closing episode as to whether they can make it a reality.  The reality is that had the main character (the replacement) had not been there that the elder leader would have least given comfort a continued stable state.  What seldom gets illustrated in these chronicles is the uncertainty that exists or the fool hearty thinking that exists in every new leader.

Stepping forward into reality 2016 version, society as a whole seeks leaders.  Anyone or anything that society deeps a success in the present day reaches a level of leadership recognition.  It might be a technological accomplishment, commanding an uprising, award received or a contest won.  Are these leaders or are they simply points in time.  What comes to mind is a term that occurs in the music industry called a ‘one hit wonder’.  The person has all of the traits and all of the abilities but is unable to deliver continuity.  There are far more one hit wonders than the emergence of leaders.  The outcome isn’t always pretty, some fall into the abyss of drugs and substance abuse, some will disappear into obscurity while others will continue their craft using what little bit of notarity they have been able to  accumulate.  The elders are allot like the one hit wonder but on a much larger scale.  Their one hit wonder may be the 20, 30 or even 40 years of commitment to their profession and their society.  Is society willing to simply accept this contribution and push them to pasture, allow them to fade into the past (even the most popular will fall into that state) or is there a reason to continue involving them in ‘the today’?  It is a personal choice for the elder but it is also a responsibility of society to determine how it wishes to react.  The East has a long standing respect for its elders but I would also say that the outcome remains the same as with the West.  Both East and West do not have a commitment to engagement of the elder community.  As a result, the resource is not utilized and as a result society continues to create mistake on mistake that could have been avoided or resolved using the best of minds crafted on years of applied experience.

The Plan

As an elder I’ve been sitting here for the last couple of weeks considering ‘the next’.  When we are young we look at things in terms of the journey traveled and when you become an elder you start trying to figure out how much forward history remains.  Many decide to take it slow, although slow sometimes seems quite fast, clinging on to each and every second.  Others fade in the discourse of society’s use of their talents and abilities, to which this becomes a painful torturous process.  And then there is the remaining few, the “me’s” that want to grow more.  For me, its found in the development of my 20 year plan.  I started off thinking 10 years but then realized that if it was too short that I would have to add to it.  Now in the concept of sprint planning (an agility terms used in software development) we are more than happy to add more because it provides the stakeholder with added perceived value.  But I’m not doing this for the benefit of anyone else, but for self and knowing that I was stretching small would be a personal letdown on myself… so I’m going to stretch big and  anticipate that this won’t be my last plan during the course of my life legacy gifted to me by my parents and the natural course of creation.  For those that think that I should hang it up, sorry to disappoint you but go on with your lives as though I don’t exist (they have been doing a pretty good job at that… so be it).  For those that think I should slow down, I am in slow mode (haha, I bet you thought it was all out, sorry… I live the life of a race car).  But more importantly for those are sitting at that same cross road as I did, and still haven’t got the answer I want you to consider building your next plan.  A plan not based on a goal but one crafted on a basis of service to society and your own mental well being.

This plan is like to other, its a plan based on enjoyment.  It reaches deep into our past and becomes a testimony to sharing.  Some of you may have seen my tidbits of thinking (I like to think of it as wisdom but I’m sure that would be up for debate) posted in my social media outlet Facebook.  They are shown with hashtag #JEDyear, since I started doing this in 2015 and have continued on this track into 2016 they are prefixed by those two years.  I did this for two purposes; the first was to leave something behind for my child to have as a guide (since most were driven on real life situations that have happened) and the second reason was to serve as a yard stick on my continued mental well being (in other words not losing my sanity but if I was to determine the extent of loss…. thus far so good, I think).  Our elder plan should be made up of both personal and professional goals.  Each of these categories made up of a series of explicit objectives.  Its sort of the elder’s form of bucket list, probably perceived by many as a ‘Leaky Bucket List’.  The items should not be about the how, otherwise you will never get started, but the what.  Once you have defined the what then they ‘why’ and in this case its okay to be a bit selfish and have some reasons that are purely for you and no one else.  Mental health and sanity are important because as elders time has a way of eroding away sanity even when the physical is entirely healthy.  With this in hand we can then start to craft how we are going to go about doing it.  The one wonderful thing about elder planning is that we know the sense of urgency, in our youth we would prefer to procrastinate and let life lead us where it may.  Oh my goodness, I wish that life had left me alone on more than one occasion and forced me into having a better road map.  But alas, this is history and the time is now.

My Plan

As I said its for ‘me’ not for you or for society.  No, you won’t have to call up the FBI or other law enforcement agency to come and retrieve me.  My plan is about building the next.  Its not about the internet of things, its not about innovation or some other present day catch phrase its about torch building.  Where you don’t come, I will come, and where I come I will show and guide.  I have done this for a good part of my life, often in the shadows of the ones who today are either dead or struggle by the loss of their appeal.  They are a small part of what they once were and their mental state although statesman like is inside a frail vulnerable being.  So for me let me at least outline what my plan is (and you can decide for yourself as to whether I’m sane or not).

Personal

  • Stabilize Friendship and Connection Base
    • Purge where you must, repair where you can, build what you need
  • Next Generation Preparation to Accept the Torch
  • Achieve New Avenues for Enjoyment
  • Recognize All Wrongs without Justification

Professional

  • Complete Existing Projects
  • Form One New (or Renewed) Startup Enterprise
  • Capture Life Experiences and Seek to Fill Gaps of Opportunity
  • Continue Reading, Research and Study
  • Abandon Contacts who Involve Effort Exertion

Unlike most plans I believe this has to be examine and adjusted regularly, possibly as frequently as monthly.  I am also planning to share this with some other fellows (men and women) who should be or are in the midst of a similar exercise.  Although many are not in the mode of writing it down but living it, like they did in their youth its important to share in order to get a sanity check as well as to build psychological strength.  You might think you have all the answers after 20 years but you don’t even have it at 30 or even 40.  Life isn’t about an ending but about a beginning.

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