Home Concepts Ethics Generativity and the Greater Good: The Life and Work of Two Professional Coaches

Generativity and the Greater Good: The Life and Work of Two Professional Coaches

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The generative domain of concern is no longer focused just on family, organization, or community. Generative people now care about the more fundamental legacies in their life. They preserve, honor, commemorate, salute people, processes and institutions that have contributed to the Greater Good. They write histories, plan for celebrations, award metals, build monuments, compose music, record oral histories. They guard that which already exists so that the past and present can help to guide the future. Legacy is now not just confined to oneself. It is a collective legacy founded in the actions taken by courageous, wise and visionary leaders and the organizations and communities in which they operate. While this third way to express generativity can be identified as a form of resistance to change, or as an overdose of nostalgia, it also can be seen as an expression of deep caring for that which remains valid in contemporary times and which continues as a source of wisdom regardless of its date of origin or the quaint way in which it is stated, painted, sculpted or sung.

Generativity is to be found in yet another way. I witnessed this fourth role of generativity when helping to conduct a two-year research project on Community Sage Leadership in Western Nevada County, California that was headed by my dear friend and colleague, Gary Quehl. Fifty men and women (ages 25-55) were identified as emerging sage leaders and interviewed in-depth on the same set of key life questions. Another fifty men and women (ages 56-90) from the same communities (Grass Valley and Nevada City, CA) were identified as senior sage community leaders and also were interviewed on these questions.

In writing a book about this project, Gary and I identified a very powerful, unifying theme—especially among the retired senior sage leaders (Quehl and Bergquist, 2012). These men and women were generative in their care for the community in which they lived. Unlike many other retirees who had retreated into gated retirement communities and often stagnated, the fifty senior sage leaders found enormous gratification in their involvement with local arts councils, environmental action groups, hospitality organizations, and many other initiatives that enhanced community development.

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