We have been training a disengaged workforce for decades. Remember the ‘60s? I began my 20s in the ‘60s. And for the first half of that decade I had the privilege of living in my hometown, San Francisco, where “hippies and the counter-culture” grew into an awesome force. Free Love, birth control pills and the mantra, “If it feels good, do it” typified the 60s zeitgeist.
Then with a little help from our “friend” LSD we invented a new slogan to embrace: Sex, Drugs & Rock-n-Roll. If that doesn’t weld disengagement to the 1960s, here’s one more motto that should do it: “Turn on, Tune in and Drop Out!” Is your mind revisiting that farm-commune in northern New Mexico? We still have our Last Whole Earth Catalog, and looking at it reminds me of verbal subtleties like “no hassle,” “no sweat” and “I need space to do my own thing”. We made the ‘60s a cultural celebration of disengagement.
I made it through somehow and was assimilated into an inconceivable era of technology. Now I am using that technology to either increase my world engagement with emails, web sites, newsletters and this blog or I’m enabling a 21st century form of disengagement. I can’t tell which but I do know that during this process I morphed into a Senior Citizen.
That change into an elder wouldn’t mean much except for the unrelenting aging of the body. The aging process pushes many seniors into a substitute role I’ve now discovered, sedentary engagement. In this condition the brain seems to be working better than it ever has possibly because it contrasts so vividly with a body that isn’t. No complaints really, when you consider how terrible life could be with two of the other three cells in the matrix. Disengagement is a static, avoidance-driven state of mind. Engagement is an all-out, burning desire to fight!
Fight what? Fortunately, we’ve been given an excellent cognitive map showing where the battles have to take place. From Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, pictures/graphs have evolved that are only a Google-Image away. I’ve uploaded a colorful one for the image-driven and a word table for those hooked on orthographics. My short version of the picture’s thousand words is: Push Away from your Fixed Mindset and Fight your Way towards a Growth Mindset. And regardless of your age the energy you put into the process is almost all mental effort.
Well now, we Senior Citizens who have raised children and grandchildren are not done, at least not done mentally. We need to pay forward a spirit of engagement that will enable growth-oriented minds to comprehend the inconceivable that’s coming. And while we’re at it let us shift our focus from the 70+ percent of disengaged humans in the workplace and towards all the imaginable possibilities for satisfyingly successful engagement.