Navigating the Turning

By Shae Hadden

David Korten’s opening remarks addressed all present at this conference
as ‘navigators’ of the Great Turning. I find the term interesting:
navigators, in effect, act as leaders. They are responsible for guiding
the ‘ship’: they envision arriving at the destination, chart a course
to it (however tentative or uninformed), and then direct the actions of
others to make that ‘vision’ reality. I agree with Korten that leaders
are of critical importance for navigating the sweeping transformations
happening in our world today.

I was somewhat surprised to see
that most conference participants appeared to be in their late 40s and
up. The few younger people who were present stood out from the crowd.
Korten noted in his closing remarks how most audiences he speaks to are
comprised of older people in their 50s and 60s, and that there is a
need to attract younger people. Perhaps their absence is indicative of
the fact that North American society does not, for the most part,
promote dialogue between generations. Perhaps they lack the time and
resources to attend. Whatever the reason for their absence, when it
comes to addressing the seemingly intractable problems of the world, I
believe this intergenerational conversation is absolutely critical.

technologies have made it possible in the last decade for
conscientious, committed young leaders today to effectively collaborate
with their peers. Yet, their selfless actions could achieve even
greater results in the world. Older people, especially the newly
retiring Boomer generation, have the networks, the wisdom, the
experience of being leaders, and the time to help younger people
achieve extraordinary results. And extraordinary results are what we
require if we are to navigate the Turning successfully. Unfortunately,
in our culture, retirees are usually sidelined, withdrawn from the
playing field and told to ‘relax and enjoy retirement’.

never throws out anything—Earth herself recycles and reuses every atom
to create anew. Similarly, I have a vision for retiring Boomers—one in
which the retirees become Elders to the younger generations. Elders not
in the old meaning of hierarchical or domineering seniors. Elders as
older people with life experience who are committed to staying in the
game, giving their best to develop every dedicated younger person into
an extraordinary navigator, and creating a new vision of retirement for
the generations to come.

In his closing address, Korten spoke
of the need for ‘youth translators’, people who can bridge the
generations and communicate with both young and old equally well. This
connecting influence between generations requires another type of
leader: a servant leader who is committed to creating a space where all
can be heard and where both generations can share the best they have to
offer in making their common vision of a world that works for everyone
a reality.

I am committed to transforming the world through intergenerational conversation. As Executive Director of the newly formed Eldering Institute,
I want to challenge all of us regardless of age to either support
existing iniatives or start your own. Our motto for those of us in
midlife or older is to put "Wisdom into Action". We don’t need more
advisors and people telling youth what to do. We need leaders who will
inspire action and participate in addressing today’s most compelling
and intractable problems.

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