Home Concepts Adult Development The Big Picture, Civic Engagement and Generativity Four

The Big Picture, Civic Engagement and Generativity Four

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It often goes beyond just the person with whom one has an intimate relationship. If friends, co-workers, and neighbors don’t appreciate the new priorities of Emerging Sages, and tell them they are losing their competitive edge, they are likely to fall back into old patterns—begrudging the success of others. Our study of Sage leadership suggests that it truly does take a community to help Sage leaders find new purpose and energy in their lives, and to help them transition from focusing on success and self-achievement to significance—probably the single factor that most leads to an enduring legacy.  It might also take a professional coach to help a client find the new purpose and energy associated with being significant rather than just successful.

There is one other matter that we need to reiterate: it is the management of boundaries. Our findings from the Sage project suggests that the management of boundaries may be critical in moving from success to significance. If Emerging Sages don’t devote time, attention, and energy to significant others in their lives, how can they expect their partners to support their shift to significance—and the often-accompanying de-emphasis on pay and promotion? If other members of the Emerging Sage’s family don’t really understand the importance of the leader’s civic engagement, how can they be expected to willingly sacrifice their time with the leader or forgo their own priorities—like owning a home, having a second child, traveling, or saving for retirement?

More than one Emerging Sage observes with regret that he gave up so much earlier in his adult life that he now feels he can’t adequately provide for his family. If Emerging Sage leaders don’t pay enough attention to sustaining their own physical and mental health, they won’t be able to sustain a commitment to significance beyond personal ambition. In many ways, self-sacrifice is among the most selfish of lifestyles, for it can’t be sustained and often results in personal regret and enduring resentment among those in the lives of Emerging Sages who are most important. A professional coach can lend a hand in this regard.

Senior Sage Leaders

More than half of the 50 Senior Sage leaders say there is no personal sacrifice in their civic engagements: “quite the opposite. I don’t feel that either my wife or I are sacrificing anything. We are being enrichment by our community involvements.” Even if there is sacrifice, they tend to believe the benefits far out-weigh any personal costs:

“Right now, I don’t feel like I sacrifice. Rather, my volunteer work feeds me. I went through a couple of marriages and had to choose between being who I am or being in the marriages. At this point in my life, my husband wholeheartedly supports what I do and is enthusiastic about it. My kids are all grown now, and they’re proud of me, so it’s fine.”

A small number of Senior Sages feel mixed about whether their civic activities involve personal sacrifice:

“Anyone who gives freely of their time for volunteer work feels there is some sacrifice, but they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think it was worth it. Sure, instead of volunteering 40-50 hours a month, I could be doing other things like lying on a lounge or reading a series of essays. But that’s not the point, is it?”

One of our Senior Sage leaders describes a sequence of decisions when talking about sacrifice:

“After retiring, I informed my wife that my first year was going to be given to enjoying our beautiful natural environment here. Then I acted on my belief that there was more to life than fishing and playing tennis and golf. So I got involved. I guess the only sacrifice I made was that I over-committed myself by getting involved in too many organizations at the same time. This was draining and prevented my wife and me from doing some of the leisure activities we had looked forward to all of our lives. My terming off two nonprofit boards has helped to restore balance in my life.”

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