Homo Sapiens grew up in tribes and subsequently fragmented into nuclear families. The next stage in the journey is to get back together again in a structure called Joint Families; where grandparents, parents and children stay together in a symbiotic relationship of love, peace, joy, harmony and yet, full self-expression; supporting each other to fulfil each others' intentions and realize each others' dreams.
It takes greater leadership depth to stay together than to stay by yourself. Values can only be emulated. They cannot be taught. Leadership means to respond from one's values instead of reacting from fear. Therefore, leadership in its truest essence cannot be taught in a classroom. Neither can we wait for kids to grow up to learn leadership in organisations, where they are assigned coaches to support them to increase their leadership depth. Grandparents and parents are the first coaches and mentors. As parents are often away on their day job, raising of kids is delegated to day-cares or nannies or at the cost of the mother's professional self-expression. There is not only an economic but a much bigger emotional and spiritual impact of such an arrangement.
There's loneliness at both ends - loneliness of growing older where one generation (grandparents) can no longer seek refuge in the busyness of being busy and the other generation (grandkids) hasn't as yet learnt to submerge themselves in the busyness of life. Bringing these two generations together serves both of them as the pace of life for them is the same. Since values of love, gratitude, reverence, integrity, mastery, joy, gentleness can only be role-modelled; kids have a greater learning opportunity observing their parents and grandparents living these values with each other. Marital relationships go through the cycle of stress and strain as the parents evolve in their own journey to greater harmony with each other. Therefore, parents may not be ideal relationship role models for kids.
Similarly, in organizations, getting the older generation to exit at a certain retirement age is creating a huge loss for the organisations by taking away natural mentoring and coaching relationships from the eco-system.
Google recently demonstrated that its best employees were not Ivy League students but rather young people who had experienced a big loss in their lives and had been able to transform that experience into growth. According to Google, deep personal loss has resulted in employees who are more humble and open to listening and learning.
- Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
From Google's experience, what becomes clear is that leadership depth is more important that technical expertise - humility (a combination of love, gratitude, reverence, gentleness), openness to listening and learning (pre-requisite for personal mastery). As we age, we also collect losses along the way, deepening us as human beings and we naturally slow down realising the futility of escaping ourselves by taking on a chase on the outside.
It's only when we learn to slow down can we really speed up the outcomes on the outside. Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the third richest person in the world, spends 80% of his time reading. When asked once about the key to his success, he said "I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business."
How will the organisations learn to slow down to speed up in the right direction from good to great? Only if the senior citizens of the organisations are still around to provide the stability and wisdom of experience.
"Superagers" is a term for 65 years and above, whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds. How do you become a superager? Studies at Massachusetts General Hospital suggests by working hard at something. From the article by the researchers - "The road to superaging is difficult, though, because these brain regions have another intriguing property: When they increase in activity, you tend to feel pretty bad — tired, stymied, frustrated. Think about the last time you grappled with a math problem or pushed yourself to your physical limits. Hard work makes you feel bad in the moment. The Marine Corps has a motto that embodies this principle: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” That is, the discomfort of exertion means you’re building muscle and discipline. Superagers are like Marines: They excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention."
A ground-breaking implication from this is that if you continue to engage with your employees well beyond the so-called 'retirement age' and support them to become a superager, you not only contribute to the society by ensuring greater health and well-being but also reap monetary benefits from having a loyal, committed, stable workforce who can be friend, guide, philosopher, coach to the younger employee force that you are on-boarding from colleges. Creating grandparent-grandchild kind of relationships at workplace will increase the quotient of compassionate love in your organisation. Research proves that a culture of compassionate love leads to greater productivity, performance, profitability and organisational greatness.
"We surveyed more than 3,200 employees in 17 organisations spanning seven industries: biopharmaceutical, engineering, financial services, higher education, public utilities, real estate, and travel. In organisations where employees felt and expressed companionate love toward one another; people reported greater job satisfaction, commitment, and personal accountability for work performance."
- From an article published in Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2016 by
Sigal Barsade, Professor of Management, Wharton;
Olivia A. O’Neill, Assistant Professor of Management, George Mason University
Two weeks before, I invited Dada Dadi (my kids' paternal grandparents) to move in with us and they did.
Nearly 7 years ago, I had moved myself, kids and husband out from their house because I could not bear staying with them. I wanted to live my own way and in peace. I was full of anger, upset, sadness, resentment and all sort of other types of negativity.
I thought at that time that they were the source of my misery. Shortly afterwards, my husband became the source of my misery. I couldn’t deal with it that I ended up becoming a coach to get a handle on all the misery in my life.
The journey as a coach and all the training and inner growth that came along with it made me realise that the source of misery is really inside me. The outside just serves as a trigger to activate whatever is inside me.
The continual inner cleansing brings me home to myself moment by moment, that joyous inner peace has become more important than being right and having my way. I also realize the only way to get my intentions fulfilled and dreams realised is to support others to fulfil their intentions and realise their dreams; give away all the credit without the need for approval, appreciation and respect.
I want my parents to stay with me so that I can care for them as they move forward in their journey in this lifetime. Dada Dadi keep waiting for the one day in the week when kids will come. Dadi (paternal grandmother) misses the connection with her only child, who doesn’t really talk much and doesn’t really experience my love as I am not really able to give it unconditionally. My daughter keeps complaining about the food not being tasty. I find myself not being able to love my kids unconditionally too and see myself frequently losing my temper with them. I also see myself being too strict, disciplined and controlling. My younger one has now moved to a grade where he’ll also have his exams. My older one keeps feeling left out because of the younger one and does not fully experience my love.
Dadi falls sick and that becomes my pretext for getting them to stay with us. It is an intuitive decision, a decision that feels right. The rationale for the decision comes to me later as I go about enrolling Aditya (my husband), Dada, Dadi on the wisdom of this decision. Because the inside is cleansed, I access the power to get them to say yes to my proposal.
We have stayed together for a week now. Mealtimes are happy times, kids are no longer crying and fussing, the food is delicious that the kids appetite has increased, kids are having so much fun, Dada Dadi look so happy, Aditya looks settled and at peace, there’s financial abundance as there are running expenses of only one house instead of two and the other house will soon be put on rent. This arrangement also creates space for me to visit my parents weekly, who live 4 hours away in another city.
As per Harvard Grant study, there are only 2 things that ensure that a child grows up to be happy and successful - receiving unconditional love and doing household chores. Dada Dadi’s love for them is so much more unconditional than mine is. Also, neither do I know nor do I love how to cook well or how to manage the functioning of a house, both critical life skills for both men & women to have fulfilling relationships with themselves and with important others in their life. Dadi is not only an expert in both these skills, she loves both these crafts. The kids will effortlessly pick up these skills from her through the process of emulation because kids learn by observing and imitating rather than what we adults tell them to do.
Sure, there’s white rice that kids are being fed instead of brown rice, organic way of life is probably slipping away, Dada Dadi are feeding the kids instead of the kids eating on their own, daily disciplined study is not really happening, golf practise is not happening with the rigour of before, lot more screen-time is available for the kids.
Opening myself to other ways of life, other points of view is increasing my leadership depth. I feel having a happy positive home environment will create greater health and well-being for the kids than organic food, brown rice, the rigour and discipline.
Guess what, as I didn't attach myself to my way, Dada Dadi are opening up to explore other ways of life. Within 2 weeks, brown rice found its way back on the table, we just ordered organic vegetables yesterday, their brand of milk that we have now adopted is of much better quality. That's what I always keep discovering - when I give up my attachment to my way, others give up their attachment to theirs and we come up with an integrated way that is 100 times better than each of our individual ways.
Old age homes, retirement age, nuclear families are concepts antithetical to the organic growth and evolutionary process of our species. We started our evolution as homo sapiens in tribes. Being a part of a close-knit community is our natural way of being, providing a nurturing space for us to continue our journey of evolution from fear-for-survival instinct to compassionate love and childlike trust & faith. The wars outside are because there is a war inside each of us. The separation outside is because there is separation inside each one of us. We are designed to be in authentic connection with each other; designed to nourish each other through loving kindness, appreciation and respect. Living any other way reduces our productivity, performance, creativity and innovation.
As organisations seek ways for greater sustainable profitability, ways to transform themselves from good to great; we will come back home to ourself and to each other, end the war and separation within our own self to end the terrorism and abuse outside by re-connecting ourselves with our parents first and then with everyone else as our families become organisations of multiple generations staying together and organisations become families.
To this brave beautiful blissful new world, let's march forward.
An article from New York Times - How to Become a Superager
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.