Sunday, August 30, 2020

What will we leave behind?

I'm now about 18 months away from 50, and I can see that the older generation that I looked up to is slipping away. Many of them already have. I love my community, but in general it seems to be pretty useless at what the management consultants call 'succession planning'. Perhaps that is a symptom of Protestant individualism.

Community organisations, businesses, church congregations and even families seem to me to be very vulnerable, because the previous generation took little interest in developing a new generation and in building them up, to one day smoothly hand over the reins of responsibility. 'Leaders' are ageing and the younger ones seem immature, ignored, consequently apathetic and inexperienced, and out of their depth. I once heard a 'celebrity pastor' online saying astutely that the young men drift away when the older men take no interest in them. Change will come, but it will be sudden and not prepared for. 

Soon it will be up to me and my generation to carry on. But I fear we are ill-equipped to do so. There are two types of organisations. One is a large network of influence. The other is a tiny empire of control. I fear that our previous generation has preferred the latter, at the expense of the former. 

You need to delegate and develop others.
You need to cultivate and maintain relationships.
You need to bring the capable and interested people along.
You need to give them opportunities and resources to learn from.
You need them to be confident enough to show what they can do.

In a political context, a smart friend also once wryly observed to me that Ulster unionism has never had innovators, just traitors. The suspicion and fear of change is a whole other dimension.

When I look in the mirror, I wonder what of permanence has been done in the past generation? What will we, and I, leave behind for the next?