Always a time of review and forecast, the end of this year seems to be provoking a greater than usual amount of sober reflection among our clients, family and friends. The past year has doubtless unsettled many Boomers who have lived largely as though the good times would continue to roll and even snowball. Now the heat is on and the snowball is melting.
Our children, now in their prime earning years, are facing the possibility that they will be the first generation to not economically exceed their parents. Indeed, many are finding themselves out of work and short on prospects as entire industries implode.
Our grandchildren (can this be?) are reacting to their parents' fears with growing cynicism and disrespect for the powers that be. Kids' disillusion with adult role models is resulting in anti-social, anti-future behaviors that have many of them showing up in wilderness and residential programs.
This multi-generational storm cloud has a silver lining. There is yet another generation being heard once again, or for the first time. Our parents faced far more stressful times. Children of a depression more debilitating than our current economic difficulties, and veterans of a war that claimed hundreds of thousands of friends and family, our parents learned some lessons about life and living that we need to heed today.
In our work with parents and organizational leaders, we are increasingly hearing our clients repeating these lessons from the past:
- If you can't pay cash, you can't afford it.
- Things change. There are no givens
- There is no free lunch.
- I am not responsible for my child's happiness. That's their job.
- I am 100% accountable for my decisions.
- Work is your love made visible.
- Parenting is full-time work. (Everything else is a part time job)
- Honesty is the best policy.
- Money can't buy happiness.
- Never leave the house without clean underwear.
One other piece of elder advice, "'tis better to give than receive," came to mind the other day when I received the following email from a fellow coach:
"I am writing to introduce a non-profit organization designed to help veterans [from Iraq and Afghanistan] and their families and to see if you have interest in giving of yourself as a coach to returning veterans. Not all veterans have mental disorders that require therapy/pharmacotherapy. Many come home with post-traumatic stress (NOT PTSD) and adjustment or transition issues. These are veterans who would benefit most from coaching." The email went on to introduce Give An Hour, a 501(c)(3) founded in September 2005 by Dr. Barbara V. Romberg, a psychologist in Washington D.C. www.giveanhour.org
As I reread those words, "adjustment or transition issues," I realized that this is an area for which a coach is uniquely qualified. Focusing on empowering clients to identify and use their strengths to meet current problems and difficulties, a coach can fill an important role in the returning veteran's support network. For those working with parents of struggling teens and young adults, the issues of transitioning and adjusting to a "new world" are familiar ones. I suspect the coaching methodologies will likewise be similar. I intend to find out. I have volunteered my services pro bono as a coach for any veteran and/or their spouse or partner. [Certified Coaches interested in volunteering may contact me and I will pass your name and contact information on to the organization. Licensed therapists may register on your own by going to the website.]
And so I start this new year with resolve and resolutions:
- I will seek to serve as coach and supporter for those who may doubt themselves.
- I will read my history and heed the lessons of the past.
- I will remember the caution, "This too shall pass."
- I will live this year with responsibility and 100% accountability.
- I will never leave the house without clean underwear.
May your new year be one of health, helping, happiness and hope.