Belonging and Relationships
Like their Emerging counterparts, Senior Sage leaders often speak of engaging the community through their volunteer work – the sense of belonging to a great cause that brings them together with kindred spirits. Their commitments and passions are especially exhibited and fulfilled through their favored organizations. They feel worthy and worthwhile because they have something to give, and their talents and experiences are recognized by others. Senior Sages realize with pride that they possess the skills and motivation to make a difference, and to find others with whom they can share their experiences through collaboration. These colleagues possess complimentary skills and also offer opportunities for Senior Sage leaders to build new and enduring friendships.
Giving Back During the Senior Years
Senior Sage leaders often say they benefit greatly from the sense that they are leaving their community in a better place than they found it. Clearly, they feel they are leaving a mark on the community’s quality of life. One Senior Sage puts it succinctly: “I’m just proud to live here.” But there seems to be much more to appreciate from the benefits derived by Senior Sages when they become generative during their senior years. We note that many Senior Sages say they had become isolated in their early retirement due to being “burned-out” from years of corporate, nonprofit, or government politics. So, it is understandable that some Senior Sages retreat into themselves and became “curmudgeons” at first. Then in time, they discover they are experiencing personal stagnation and look for opportunities to become vital again.
Many previously isolated Senior Sages that we interviewed have found that their civic engagements pulled them back into the world. This ultimately may be the greatest benefit that is derived from civic engagement. Rather than their volunteer work being regarded as a source of tension or sacrifice, these Senior Sages discoverer that civic work can integrate very nicely with family and recreational interests. The first step out of withdrawal and isolation is often the most difficult, but once engaged in the community these seniors acquired new energy and renewed purpose. And they gain a real sense of balance in their lives. Further, Senior Sages say they feel better after providing community service (physical benefits) and feel intellectually stimulated (mental benefits). And they benefit greatly from the camaraderie of their fellow Sage leaders (interpersonal benefits). Put simply, Senior Sages find that civic work feeds not only their spirit but their entire being.
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