'I need a mentor.'
Anyone associated with young people has probably heard those words before, particularly in a business or organizational context or in working with disadvantaged youth. Mentoring is a powerful tool for helping young people develop. But from a 65 or 70 year-old? Wouldn’t that seem a strange comment coming from one well into the Third3rd of life? Does mentoring older men even make sense?
“Mentoring Older Men” Sounds Weird!
There are two predominant messages in our current society: if you make it to your mid-sixties, you’ve made it. You have achieved success. You’ve probably raised and launched a family. You have given your life to an occupation. You are now ready to retire, to rest, to travel and to reap the rewards of a life of hard work and achievement. Advertisements like this one are typical.
A second message is: life is over. Life has no meaning or fulfillment beyond work. The current Peyton Manning advertisement for Direct TV, with humor, tells this story.
Those of us in our Third3rd soon discover that real life is different than the one the advertisers publish. Play can become boring if it’s all we do. While travel and leisure can be very fulfilling and life-giving in the Third3rd, we may run out of those places from our bucket list we must visit. We will often reach a point where enduring security lines, delays and cramped airplane seats just becomes too difficult. Many who reach this stage of life can feel a deep sense of loss of purpose with no office or job to head to each morning…like the old man on the bench with Peyton.
Here is the really frightening potential: many of us in the early stages of our Third3rd of Life escort parents through the end of their life into eternity. We experience the hard truth that significant life events lay before us. Some of them will be very hard. We get concerned that we may be woefully unprepared to face them. Perhaps a mentor at our age is not such a bad idea after all…
Three Keys to Mentoring Older Men
While there are several ways to approach helping an older man face the unknowns of life in the Third3rd, we believe these three keys to their future to be crucial:
Key #1: Help them see and know
their continued sense of calling.
Vocation is not the same thing as occupation. At LDG, we believe we all have a purpose in life, a reason for being alive at this moment and in this place.
This purpose extends beyond and outlives our occupation.
A life of clear purpose brings joy and meaning to all of life. This is possible deep into the Third3rd of life.
Key #2: Help them understand and prepare
for the transitions ahead.
At LDG, we frame our view life in Thirds. Each of the Thirds of Life are lived out in their individual Decades.
We view those in their 60’s living into a Decade of Generatively. We borrow this term from Adult Development scholar Erick Erickson.
In this decade, we have a unique capacity to know who we are and that we are uniquely equipped to look around and see who is coming behind us. We are able extend a hand to those behind us. We are positioned to help others as others have helped us in the various stages of our own lives. This decade give us a singular opportunity to reproduce experience and wisdom in others.
We view the 70’s of life as a Decade of Integrity. Again the term, though not the timing is borrowed from Erick Erickson’s thinking.
This does not mean we have lived a life of lies up to our 8th decade. When we speak of integrity at Leadership Design Group, we speak in terms of wholeness, being complete, being one.
We want to see people, by this decade, prepared to finish well, having dealt with the issues we have faced in our lives, and come to terms with who we are and what we have accomplished. We want them prepared and equipped to finishing well.
We view the 80’s as a Decade of Release and Perseverance. Any decades God grants us into and beyond a 9th decade we will live, with gratitude.
We experience a release of responsibilities, cares, perhaps guilt, and sometimes even life dreams we have cherished. We come to grips with the release of our own right to independence and autonomy as we find it necessary to accept help from others. That will carefully, intentionally mean for many the release of that badge of independence: our driver’s license. We age.
Eventually, should we live long enough, we find this decade one of endurance where we will tend to lose strength and stamina. We battle disease. We face death. Many will end this 3rd where we started: dependent on family or others for basic needs and care.
Each of these decades of the Third3rd of Life needs careful thought, planning and preparation as to who we will be, what we will do and how we will navigate waters we have never before navigated. A mentor can be valuable, in distinct life-giving ways in walking older men—and women—through the intentional preparation we see necessary.
Key #3: Help them continue to see themselves
as whole people
still alive with purpose.
We are 8-Dimensional, whole people. “Retirement” does not change this truth. Given the deep and significant changes we will experience in our Third3rd, mentoring offers a rich trove of subjects for exploration in the Circle of Life.
How will our social life change as we move from 60, to 70, to 90? Who will we be financially? What financial legacy do we choose to leave? Who shall we be physically in this Third? What limits do we foresee given the facts of aging and our own family history? How shall we prepare for them? Who will we be at the core of our life? Will we finish well, with a clear purpose that is consistent with our core beliefs?
We could go on. We should go on! All of us.
The Third3rd will bring important, significant changes, issues and challenges at our core and in each of our 8 Dimensions. A trusted mentor can help us work through each dimension of our life at each stage of our progress through the Third3rd. Choosing to do this ensures we will live a thriving, whole life right up to the point where we step into eternity.
Interested in Mentoring Older Men?
We at Leadership Design Group are exploring what it means to mentor in the Third3rd. We know mentoring in this Third of Life looks different than in the other Thirds. If you are interested in learning with us, we would be delighted to hear from you.