|Friday, 22 October 2010 21:26|
The Exemplar of the Best of Adult Responsibility:
With age – with each aspect, of each year beyond childhood and adolescence – we must guard against bulk thought and the safety of habit. Most importantly, we must consciously fight back the natural inclination to resist change. "It’s Our Sanity", Dr. Lauren Kennedy-Smith
As thinking adults in a variety of roles, we are challenged everyday to perform and to reflect behaviors based on the highest ethical and human principles. We do not always measure up, but that is to be expected. It is with conscious effort, with acceptance of imperfection in ourselves and others, and with the practice of active responsibility for our performance and effect that we earn our measure. These are also the ingredients to living a sanguine, adult life – especially in the context of an ever-increasing distance between ourselves and the fleeting, culturally canonized, false promise of youth.
Our Roles as Adults
With passing years, as parents, spouses, or as employees and managers, we tend to look back and away from youth with a combination of melancholy, envy, and ambivalence. By so doing, it is easy to both shirk our responsibilities as key players in our environments and to miss ongoing opportunities to give and to contribute more each day. As chronologically maturing adults, we are looked to for guidance, either tacitly or overtly, and each day what we do and say, and how we approach others and the world, affect those around and following behind us. And this is just as true in our work places as it is in our homes and communities. If we accept the behavioral psychological principle that, generally, people look to each other for hints on how to appear acceptable, how to problem-solve, and how to create and succeed, we must remain particularly sensitive to (and recall) the vigilant, insecure, and hungry eyes of youth. We are all mentors. In fact, as adults, we are also models, to both youth and younger adults, of how to behave, work, commit to people and objectives, and of how to deal with what comes our way in the way of circumstances. Far from resigning and handing over the reins to what some perceive as the intolerance and impatience of youth, we are, in fact, meant to take the reins of responsibility - with patience and compassion.
The Speaker Mandate
As a keynote speaker, therapist, manager, business associate, “employee”, spouse, parent and author (not necessarily in any order, nor inclusive) I am stretched daily by the breadth of my responsibilities with respect to others. And perhaps the most consequential, albeit privileged, mandate is that of the professional speaker. In this role, I am working in association with like-minded individuals (in close-knit agencies), the staff of whom I have long known and hold close to my heart. What I do affects them – their self-esteem, their careers, and their pocketbooks. Working with them, I am, in addition, a temporary employee of, or indirect contractor to the corporation or organization I am hired to assist. This requires that I apply creative talents, insight, interpretation, knowledge, and analysis to what is, for a brief time, a shared mandate to both inform and bring “the extraordinary” to a large group of deserving (and heart-hungry) participants. My delivery and clarity of message (or compromised delivery and muddled message) affect - bring or take value from - not just the audience, but to or from a large number of people, all of whom have important personal and professional agendas.
The “speaker mandate” epitomizes both the sacred and weighty role we all play, by necessity, as actively responsible adults. In the peculiar role of speaker, one can count on several hands, and name many of those we affect. Furthermore, sometimes we forget for just how many people we are models of both quality of performance and an ideal of personal and professional commitment. From the speaker mandate, one can draw the clearest and most fulfilling requirements of the adult employee, middle or senior manager and any other adult role that brings with it both the presumption and accountability of enfranchisement. The requirements, for us all, are as follows:
• Know your “stuff”. People sense speciousness (“B.S.”) and are repelled by it.
As William Wordsworth wrote, “Sweet childish days, that were as long as twenty days are now”. He writes of our years of sweet wonder and freedom. Strange, he did not write about the wonder, excitement and resonating challenge of self-exploration, growth, and the blessing that is the ability to affect others with grace, honor, wisdom, and respect.