Challenges in our lives can seem to happen quite randomly and shock us. Suddenly we are adjusting our lives and our careers to suit. Often the impact is so great it sends us looking for help to understand and cope with the emotions they unleash.
They might seem beyond our control but these external changes are mirrors or metaphors for what is emerging from deep within our selves as a new sense of identity and purpose.
And they often happen at common times in our lives for all of us. They also have their own themes. Knowing these transitions, and the general challenges they present, enables us to mentor and be mentored more meaningfully.
Let’s look at six identity themes, when they arise, the questions we are asked to answer and how to mentor to them. These ages are approximate of course.
Age 24 ‘The Graduate’
Adulthood truly begins. The brain is almost developed enough to allow more objective evaluation and emotional intelligence. Enthusiasm, ambition and bravado are challenged by the restriction of workplace structures, processes and systems. Curiosity, fun, a sense of working for a greater cause while fulfilling personal dreams prevails if encouraged.
Mentoring needs to focus on finding a way to structure creativity and harness enthusiasm without sacrificing engagement at work. Promotions and innovation might not happen fast enough for this age group. Let energy flow in ways that bring results. Set goals, focus attention, express appreciation to them for their part in the organisation. The good-life is important. Allow the ‘rebel’ to be expressed in practical ways. Let them find out what they can do so they are ready for age 30.
Age 30 ‘The Leader’
Greater responsibility is looked for now. More autonomy and authority is desired. This age can coincide with home buying, partnerships, children, in private life. Needs of others must be met as well as our own. A maturity now allows inner confidence and self-reliance in new ways.
Mentor for promotion, leadership skills, career progression plans and self-management. Skills to lead others or more complex processes are essential. This is a time that can feel quite lonely, heavy and restricting. It is important to boost confidence and keep possibilities open to maintain enthusiasm by looking at daily routines and personal hobbies. Assist authenticity to avoid major issues at age 40.
Age 40 ‘The Master’
The classic mid-life crisis happens around this time. If we have not been true to who we really are, external life dissolves what seemed important to reveal what is truly authentic. This can be extremely difficult if we lack emotional intelligence, do not know what we truly value, or have been wearing thick masks to hide behind or inflate our sense of self. Self-leadership skills are essential to get through the internal drives surfacing as deep dissatisfaction. This time can seem like an inner death. The future can be difficult to see. The rebel might emerge again, taking uncharacteristic risks to make more authentic change.
Mentor for boredom, ego challenges, grief and loss where they exist. This is the time to explore the nature of true power and what we identify ourselves with that does not actually empower us. Mastery of our own minds and emotions helps us see what is ‘real’. Help to let go of what has had its time and what must be created anew – without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Greater consciousness is key at this time to avoid a deep sense of wounding by age 50.
Age 50 ‘The Mentor’
By now we are coming to terms with the hurts of life, the disappointments, and the wisdom we have gained. A level of peace is possible that matures into contentment. Yet we know there is still more. These can be very active years with an inner freedom and self-awareness that allows us to have the greater good of all solidly in mind. Many people become consultants at this time, assisting people solve the problems they have healed. Often they seek to solve more global issues using the resources they have created and accumulated.
Mentor for legacy, as a daily activity as well as a future offering. Begin to focus on how to use the vast experience available to teach others with wisdom. Look at what still longs to be discovered and expressed and where to go next while being a corporate healer and mentor. Visioning and mentoring others with a sense of urgency and appreciation will help protect a sense of meaninglessness at age 60.
Age 60 ‘The Seer’
Another level of awareness comes along to question self-reliance and planning for a meaningful later-life. Even greater autonomy is wanted and required as adjustments are made for interests, energy, future needs. This used to be retirement age but many are not ready to leave the workplace and certainly want to make a useful contribution to the world for many years to come. There is an innate wisdom that can be prophetic.
Mentor for what is deeply meaningful and skills that have gone beyond mastery to artistry. Flexibility is essential to allow room to set own routines and responsibilities and to guide overall direction and vision. Ensure deep involvement and engage authority to ensure further faith and vision at age 70.
Age 70 ‘The Free Spirit’
Energy and freedom to reap the rewards from a life of service are available now. Service can continue but with wisdom, a sense of deep truth and faith in the meaning of life – a guru-principle at play. Questions about life and death, reality and illusion can dominate thoughts. A set of truths anchored in tried and tested values provide a deep foundation and sense of self. Changes are based on preferred lifestyle, exploration and freedom to move as well as a sense of legacy.
Mentor for stories that elicit depth, wisdom and truth. The immense perspective on life available now is precious and can be harnessed to benefit others. Provide ways to explore what can be contributed and how perspectives apply to the new future to ensure a fulfilling transition to older age.
At any age and stage there will be questions regarding energy, beliefs, truths, where to go and what to do next. The themes take on a different flavour, but the challenges may be no less demanding. At each stage there is a shift in consciousness. Mentor to help this new set of eyes to open and to integrate the old with the new as the inner changes become ‘real’ in the external world.
Then harness this new, conscious awareness and actively apply it to assist transformation in others and the external world.
This process is conscious evolution at work.
For assistance with your mentoring training and approaching leadership development through a mentoring culture, contact Indira atwww.consciousleader.com.au.
Indira Kennedy is Director of Conscious Leadership Australia, offering conscious leadership skills in advanced emotional intelligence and communication, women's leadership empowerment, mentoring training and private sessional support.
Contact at www.consciousleader.com.au to discuss your leadership needs.