Viva la revolution!

The last time I blogged, I introduced you to “The 100 Year Life” a fantastic book, introducing a brave new world of longevity. Its theme being, that today’s youth can expect to live beyond 100 years of age – the key word there being expect – which in turn means our current three stage model of education, work, retire, is outdated.

The aim of my last missive was to ask how this impacts on our current leaders and what they need to do in order to flex their style and fit this new world order, focusing on an increase in empathy, the introduction of “strategic altruism” and the application of “beginners mind” to their thinking – if you missed it here’s a link.

But what about those who find themselves at the beginning of this journey? Can you imagine being an 18 year old faced with the prospect of living for another 80+ years? How do you even begin to think about planning to prepare for that?

We recently held our apprenticeship conference, bringing together our 160 apprentices, to talk about this subject, amongst others, and how we’re trying to shift some of our programmes content to help them in their preparations.

As the day and its subsequent conversations unfolded I was struck by two things; firstly, when we talked about the ever increasing pace of change in the world, they were almost ambivalent – unsurprisingly I suppose, as that’s the world they’ve grown up in.

It was only when we spelled out the possible implications that they seemed to pause – as if it was the first time they’d considered what it might mean to them…which I suppose it was! And that’s when things got interesting.

Once the fact of their longevity had landed, they seemed to really struggle processing what they should be doing and how to approach it. But then again, trying to plan for the next 80 years is beyond Sisyphean – and probably misses the point too.

So what tips can we offer, and how can a coach help direct someone faced with such a mammoth task? Well, as ever, I think the rule of three applies and as leaders, coaches and mentors we might offer the following:

  • Think chapters, not book: We know that what we do is a big part of who we are.  We just need to move away from writing “My Life as…” and take things one chapter at a time.

The story will still unfold; it’ll just evolve in a more organic way and probably take a few unexpected turns as it does – just like the best books do. Let’s be honest, everyone loves a plot twist.

  • Think storyboard, not project plan: To quote Ferris Bueller “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while…you could miss it”

For those of you with no idea who the aforementioned Mr. Bueller is then this will help and, by the way, you’re really missing some valuable life lessons…

In terms of “the plan”, we’ve already talked about the ever increasing pace of change. Add to that our old friend VUCA (the world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and a plan is too fixed, too rigid.

A storyboard will help you visualise what you want your life to look like in each of those chapters – and to think about what you need to do to make it happen.

  • Think me, not we: If you’re going to be working until you’re in your 80s, a lot’s going to change: family, friends, society, technology etc. How you work and what you do, will need to be right, for you, now.

Careers will no longer be linear, people will re-train, reduce or increase their hours and level of responsibility dependant on their circumstances and desire.

This isn’t the end of the social contract between a business and its employees, but a reframing, designed to suit a world where we live longer and have to approach what that looks like in a very different way.

How we work, where we work and when we work are all about to change. Are you ready for the revolution?

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