So if “All the world’s a stage…” what about Age Discrimination?

26 07 2010


All the world’s a Stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages…”

As You Like It – 2/7

So if  “All the world’s a stage” what about Age Discrimination?

This question is one I’ve been mulling over a lot recently and particularly when talking to my coaching clients in the work I do.

It’s a fact**, and despite what a multitude of HR professionals/business leaders might tell you, we are all affected by the different stages that we’re at in life and the issues and challenges we face.

Here are some basics:

Figure 1. Adult Life Stages
Stage Key Issues Self-Image Goal Focus Relationships Community
Autonomy / Tentative Choices

(18 – 26)

Autonomy vs. Dependence

Tentative vs. Lasting Choices

Developing sense of personhood as separate from parents and childhood peer groups Defining self as an individual and establishing an initial life style Testing out new relationships (e.g., love interests, peer groups, and friends) Realigning focus from family of origin to new peers and groups
Young Adult
Transition

(27-31)

Turmoil vs. Certainty

Settling Down vs. Keeping Things Open

Questioning sense of self and who/what we want to become Re-assessing initial life style and making more permanent choices/ commitments Sorting out and deciding which relationships will become more permanent Re-thinking and evaluating commitments and connections
Making Commitments

(32-40)

Master vs. Apprentice

Permanent vs. Tentative Choices

Firming up/establishing a more permanent sense of self and who/what we want to become Deciding a life direction and defining/ aggressively pursuing a dream of what we want to accomplish in life Making more permanent commitments to love relationships, friends, and peers Establishing more permanent connections and community ties/ responsibilities
Mid-Life Transition

(41-48)

Resolving Key Polarities

Immortality vs. Mortality

Constructive vs. Destructive

Nurturing vs. Aggressive

Re-examining realities of projected ego and image vs. true self and struggling to define/accept true self Questioning the dream whether or not it was achieved and developing a more mature sense of what is really important Recognizing/ acknowledging one’s own negative, as well as positive, impact on relationships and correcting course for deeper, more authentic connections Disengaging from group and cultural pressures/norms to re-evaluate and restructure priorities
Leaving a
Legacy

(49-65)

Contribution vs. Personal Benefit

Other vs. Self Centered

Social vs. Independent Accomplishments

Letting go of earlier inaccurate ego images and accepting oneself as a worthwhile being with weaknesses as well as strengths Making the best of the time one has left to help others and leave a positive legacy Settling into more realistic and rewarding relationships based on recognizing/ forgiving each other’s imperfections as human and helping each other grow Re-engagement on a deeper, more objective, less driven and more productive, level with family, friends, and society
Spiritual Denouement

(66 and beyond)

Hope vs. Despair

Survival of Spirit vs. Mortality

Surrender vs. Control

Accepting self as dependent on a wisdom greater than one’s own, recognizing that wisdom as benevolent, and submitting one’s self and life to that wisdom’s will Tying things up and completing the development of the person/spiritual being we want to become Accepting others and recognizing/ respecting humankind’s diversity as part of a greater wisdom’s plan Recognizing that life is only part of a larger, more enduring spiritual community and helping others understand that

Click here if you can’t view the above which was taken from yoursoulatwork.com.

Of course, we are complex animals and often we weave our way through this path moving backwards and forwards between “ages”. Sometimes meandering back and re-working earlier stages and the choices we made, as we face unpredictable situations, achievements, traumas, and fluctuating career, family, or interpersonal situations.  But generally, it’s fair to say that we all recognise these stages.  We’ve all been through them.

And my point is this, to be better leaders and managers of your people.  In order to really understand them, it’s key to understand where they are in life, what’s driving them and what they are facing in their different life stages.  It’s about kicking the concept of Age Discrimination into touch – or at least putting it into some perspective.

So where are you right now in your life?  What challenges are you facing in or out of work that you’ve reflected on differently by thinking about your life in stages?  This is powerful stuff and something that so many of us put to one side.  I look forward to your your views.

Using this for Coaching Work

Some of you may like to consider using this in your own coaching or coaching work.  Here’s an idea of how:

  • Consider which Life Stage best outlines where you are today – pick the closest one for each column or more than one if that’s appropriate
  • What does that tell you about the choices you have in your life?
  • What values or beliefs do you have that are helping you stay where you are?
  • What values or beliefs do you have that will help you with your next stage?
  • How does thinking about your life like this help you?
  • What three (or more) things will you do now?

**For a more in-depth understanding of this area of social research, try googling the writings of Erikson, Levinson, Groeschel, Fowler to name a few…

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3 responses

28 07 2010
Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Ok, so can I be in all of them? The reason being that I don’t think I’ve ever really moved out of one and into another and as I change, I realise there is yet more to discover at each stage.

2 08 2010
Rachel Hall

So true Michelle and a great summary of each stage of our lives

3 08 2010
Michelle Fischer

You’re both spot on. It’s fair to say that each stage melts into each other whilst also having it’s own characteristics. It’s also important to look at the whole whilst also appreciating each part too.

Glad you appreciated the post.

M

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