Many senior sage leaders muse about the ways they are most helpful at the strategic level of their favored organizations. They are interested in, and believe they have the greatest skill when addressing, the “big picture.” They are able to sit back and link global perspectives to specific concerns of persons with whom they are working. For instance senior sage leaders often sit on nonprofit boards, and as board members they help to identify the rich resources and diverse perspectives that each board member brings to the table. They also help their board to formulate a unified strategic plan, and that usually draws on their entire life experience in working on behalf of a whole range of organizations.
We know from adult development literature that mature adults tend to resist narrow focus after they reach their 50s and 60s. They become systemic in their world view and seek to understand how everything connects, rather than emphasizing gaps in ideas, problems, and perspectives. One is reminded of the career of Peter Seeger, who helped coin the phrase “Think globally but act locally” — a guiding mantra for many community activists. Seeger’s perspective is appealing to many senior sage leaders as well because he suggests we must be interdisciplinary when tackling a local problem: We have to simultaneously consider economic, environmental, political, sociological, historical, and cultural issues when plotting a local initiative. And we must think beyond the confines of our own community.
In the case of Pete Seeger the question was, “How do we think globally as we attempt to clean-up the Hudson River?” Just as the Hudson River is in some respects an “island” in terms of its own unique culture, history and environmental dynamics, so too are Grass Valley and Nevada City an “island” community. Yet, the Hudson River and Twin Towns are inextricably linked to broader dynamics operating within their region, state, country, and world.
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