Learning from best selling author Orrin Woodward in his new book ‘LeaderShift’ has made me take a longer look at the past to learn more about the 5 Laws of Decline. I was able to gain a clearer vision of the future when I was compelled to study the names of men and women in their eighties who did not let the 5 Laws of Decline or the stereotype of age effect the impact on their future. It’s a list that everyone should recognize: Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Monet, Carnegie, Mellon, Rockefeller, Edison, Goethe, and Kant to name a few. We recognize those names for the impact they had on art, business, and poetry. They all possessed the leadership qualities like creativity, vision, innovation, and ingenuity. Our world would not be as full if it weren’t for the gifts these leaders gave us. However, we have a stereotype about age in our modern society as we begin to expect those completing a long tenure to retire. This alone sets a precedent on how we view the role of those who are aging in our culture. Learning and creativity provide energy to our human experience. There is a long list of great names of leaders who influenced the future. They did not let past experiences limit their potential that comes with age. What would happen today if we created an active aging culture instead of a passive one? We could use our leisure for a purpose? What if our leisure was leadership?
Our current stereotype seems to move people up one ladder. After a long fulfilling career we begin to prepare for rest and relaxation. We are taught to get ready for a change from everything we know. The long walk up a career ladder brings concerns along with it. Many people who have put in all their energies on that ladder find out too late that it’s leaning on the wrong building. Being on only one ladder has left many unprepared for the rapid changes that come from the information age. Leadership with the qualities of ingenuity and innovation makes it possible to prepare for the rapidly accelerating changes coming from the information age world. Leadership and learning will marry in the information age where there will be no age discrimination.
We need to re think the geography of wealth in the information age where we can now link our assets together although we may be thousands of miles apart. The new world will allow us to be more prepared if we develop a learning culture to our full advantage. Being prepared will happen from thinking that will come from reframing education and how we learn. Leadership will position us for the future. As in the great civilizations from the past, leaders came from all ages. Those leaders with experience were valued because they shared their experience. Their leadership and wisdom could be passed on to the next generation. Today, reframing can be done by looking at leadership as a learning industry that opens up the doors for all ages and social skills.
True learning is a growth experience that often times requires a different perspective about failure. Typical successful entrepreneurs failed numerous times although we only recognize them from their success. They are given credit for success while the experience of getting it wrong was part of getting it right. Learning must go beyond the theory stage. A learning leadership culture can limit the self – doubters who put too much pressure on themselves and are controlled by image, status, or fear. Leadership can influence how we perceive failure by helping us develop a vision of the future which gives the strength required to get through the trials we know will be part of life. I recently had a conversation with a friend who asked why it seemed like I didn’t have that many problems? Everyone was given a deck of cards that life has dealt them, although many of us hold our cards so close to our vest that no one can recognize the trials we face. If you ever wanted to trade cards with another person you might just be surprised to find out that you want your cards back. I like the fact that we all know that life is full of hard knocks, trials and occasional crises. It’s the leadership that gives one the preparation for the trials you know will come.
Leadership education is different than the type of education most of us have known. It’s a reinvented form of education but it allows us to reframe. Since leadership requires the learning and competence that comes from experience, it’s important to aspire to a lifestyle of learning. For example, it’s advantageous to associate with a culture of colleagues who learn. Education could be the investment and could potentially have profit incentives that come from successful performance. I remember having to go home from school with what we called homework. What if funding was available to pay back the student instead of the school? What if we continued that after we were out of school while we were in the work force? What if we called that ‘homework’? What if we reinvented education where we could create a profit incentive to fulfill our potential to learn? Homework could be practiced and tested and could become a form of self - payment. The concept of a leadership community can be the beginning where people are the assets. This would be the best investment that would lead to a fulfilling retirement. Leaders develop a vision that help others have an ‘Aha’ effect. A vision stretches people’s imaginations but still within the bounds of possibility. A vision must be clear. A vision must stick to the head and even to the heart at the same time. Take the opportunity to look into LIFE Leadership and get a clear view. God Bless, George Guzzardo