Generative altruism also plays out in wanting to give back and help others. This happens in a variety of ways for Senior Sage leaders:
Shortly after we returned to Grass Valley, we were at a dinner party and an old friend said, “Well, now it’s time for you to give back to the community.” I thought about this because I had not been back here very long; but he was absolutely right. This was a wonderful place to come of age, and I valued this so many times—whether it was my teachers, the people I worked for, or others who gave me a boost. These experiences really shaped me.
My husband and I agreed it was time for us to give back because we have been very fortunate. We have enough to live on and have traveled many places around the globe. We started doing things like working on Habitat for Humanity sites and finding organizations that we believe in. I want to give back to children who are in pain in their childhood the way I was. Maybe that’s why I am into helping to develop people, so they can become fulfilled and feel joy.
Senior Sages discuss the generative motivation of personal fulfillment in various ways:
The need is simply there. If it wasn’t, we would have to invent it to meet our need for personal fulfillment. It has to do with propelling the quality of our community life, and I am privileged to want to give the balance of my life to this goal.
I’m a social person and I like to be involved. There’s no way that in retirement I’d sit around and knit or read all the time. And I enjoy being appreciated. It’s fun to be a big frog in a little puddle. People actually thank me for what we’re doing in offering superb music, and I feel we’re succeeding. It’s very inspirational and keeps me going!
For other Senior Sages, it’s something more innate or at least inculcated at an early age:
It’s simple. I was raised that way. My father, a blue-collar worker with two years of high school, used to say, “When you make a living in your community, you give back in whatever way you can.” So, this has been a family tradition that has been passed on. Also, having been in education, it is natural to think of service to my community in this way.
Certain things have to be done, and it’s just something that I do. I don’t really think about it, and I don’t need to be told. If I see that something is needed, I do it.
It’s just who I am, it’s how I was raised. It’s also a way to have a sense of belonging, of knowing it’s my community. And it’s a way to have a personal role. I’m a “2” in the Enneagram, a helper.
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