What is Motivating IV: Multiple Levels of Generativity and Longevity
Our study of sagacious leadership has led to an unanticipated and very important finding: There may well be a third level of generativity. Level One Generativity primarily involves the raising of children and is usually associated with motives to provide for their care during our early adulthood. Level Two Generativity, which is the principal focus of work done by Erikson, is concerned with care motivations that are manifest during mid-life: establishing a new enterprise, leading an organization, teaching others, mentoring, witnessing the growth of a colleague. Level Three Generativity seems to be about something much bigger, something more than just preparing for our deaths as older adults. It’s about becoming inspired to engage in advancing the civic welfare of Grass Valley and Nevada City.
Erikson proposed that the primary developmental task during the final years of our lives is to seek ego integrity and not fall victim to existential despair. Put simply, Erikson thought that by the time we reach 60 years of age we begin preparing for our own death. Now, increased life-expectancy is giving the average senior 15, 20, or even 30 more years to choose between vibrant engagement or stagnation and decline. Yes, there are people who withdraw and lead a life of despair; Erikson’s challenge is an accurate description of the unfortunate men and women who choose to retreat behind gates and closed doors. For whatever reason, these people seek to disengage or are forced to disengage. Maybe it is burn-out, lack of energy, or illness. Perhaps it is insufficient finances or the absence of a caring family. And for some seniors who have made this choice, the end of generativity may have come earlier in life.
Senior sage leaders are too busy to fall into despair or worry about pending death. They are fully engaged in leading social reform and other forms of community service. They have made the choice—usually conscious—that “Withdrawal is not for me!” They aren’t going to stop now, at this point in their lives. And in so doing, they have helped to identify the third level of generativity for which the citizens of Twin Towns and other communities should be grateful.
And there is that additional something for which the senior sage leaders are themselves grateful. We know from the literature that we stay vibrant in old age if we remain socially, intellectually, and physically active. And when we do, we live longer. At some level we all know – and the senior sage leaders particularly know—”If we don’t use it, we’re going to lose it.” So it is reasonable to conclude that civic engagement and the third level of generativity can be based on a wonderfully selfish motive—a recognition that we need to be civically engaged if we want to stay vital and remain alive!Download Article 1K Club