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Can you Fail Fast ? Why Not ? Vol 49

September 22, 2014

If you grow vegetables, you must be a Boomer !

We live words. I make my living on their backs. So, let’s be clear. I am trying to manipulate you with every blog I write ! Why ? Because I strongly believe that we Boomers are reaching a point in our lives where we now feel lost. Powerless. Uncertain. Empty !

Yes, we have accomplished much. We have raised our kids, sheltered our family’s as best we could, and worked through lots of emotional stuff to get to where we are today. We are accomplished, some perhaps more than others, but successes nevertheless, right ? Why then, the emptiness, the feeling of un-fulfillment, the silent thought that we are stagnating ?

Individually, we try to fill in this emptiness with substitutes. Some self medicate, whether its booze, pot, or food, hoping that the physical act of ingesting will fill in the void. Some buy toys, like boats or RV’s, and convertible sports cars, so the wind can swirl through their bald heads. Some become couch potatoes, hoping to somehow survive the recent age afflictions that are rampant in our society, like heart disease, cancer, or some other stress related lifestyle result. I forget who said it but some band penned the phrase ” industrial disease “, and most of us have some strain of it. ( Yes I could google the phrase, but then I would deprive you of the memory of the group, or the satisfaction of doing the look-up yourself ).

Some Boomers even try the divorce route, looking for renewed excitement in a new relationship. Grey divorces, the term now used for Boomer break-ups, have increased by 50% recently, from 8% to about 12%. Not a huge number, but definitely a sign of soul searching.

My point ? It’s that Boomers stop learning, stop growing morally, and cocoon around our current situation ! We have been learning all of our lives, dodging failure, and we somehow believe that now is the time to celebrate the end of the journey. Why we do this is complicated. The point is to do more, to learn more, to understand that you can’t live 1/2 of a life in a full lifetime.

I am 58, the age my father died, from diabetes. So, I can not ask him about growing old. My father-in-law retired at 58 ( he is now 86 ), because he believed that he would only live until 70, maybe 75, and wanted to enjoy some of life before the big ending. Boomers today, with the continued progress of modern medicine, could see many of us live to 100. Yes, there will be cancer scares, Parkinson’s, and other degenerative diseases, but once they are solutioned, we will have the chance to live fruitful lives into our 90’s. With an average age of 56, this means most Boomers have 30+ years of learning to do.

So, why is continued learning so hard ? One major complication is that it will force us to fail, eventually, and failure is one of those few words that, as a Boomer, has long term implications, on many levels. From a society point of view, to have failed is to have lost a part of the world to socialism, to have lost millions of people to abject poverty, to have lost the war on poverty, the war on drugs …. You get the picture. Failure is one of those generational words that have great meaning.

Personally, failure tags us as losers. We can’t be good role models, good mates, or good friends if we are failures, right ? Wrong ! Interestingly, the most comments I have received on my blog involved the concept, from the behavioural sciences, that most successful people failed a few times along the way. The scientific point was that these people failed fast, and learned from their mistakes, and tried something else. Boomers tend to get hung up about failing, going out of our way to not fail, or better said, not having to show it.

We were brought up in a culture that wanted us to hide our failures, rather than celebrate them. I should say continued because we were taught this by our parents. Hopefully we have a chance to show our kids that we to can venture out, celebrate our occasional failures, and grow !

So, conquer one of your fears. Learn something new, Go out of your way to help someone. There are many ways to start to fill in the emptiness of our souls, and not all have to be about building schools in Africa. Sounds easy, right, but how does one convince someone to change their position logically, if their position was not logically derived in the first place ? How do you replace emotion with logic ? It is the question of our age.

When I was growing up, I searched for words, meaningful words, stuff that could help me navigate a world of misplaced meanings. Words like honour, commitment, marriage, love, friendship, a few words loaded with weight. We all have loaded words. What are yours, and why do they have such power ? It’s time for us to look deeply inside our souls, and rediscover the loaded words that we have papered over in our quest for perfection.

Next on Boomers – WTF !, kludges and why they inhibit our growth.

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