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“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed that’s all who ever have. ”

Margaret Mead, The World Ahead: An Anthropologist Anticipates the Future

Margaret Mead, perhaps one of the most popular modern anthropologists, is best known for her work in explaining that gender roles varied from culture to culture and that all cultures should be weighed equally. She did this in profound and yet sweeping statements that made a lot of sense to those of us entering adulthood in the early 70’s. We were rejecting the truths of our parents knowing that there were better answers out there. I found great joy that her research and conclusions made many members of the Greatest Generation red with rage. And here Margaret Mead was of that same generation.

Not related to Margaret Mead or to those living in Samoa, I have found first as an only child to two career minded older parents and later making some independent (and sometimes foolish) choices that I missed out on having siblings to mock and roughly guide me along my life journey.

My parents, God love them, gave me unrelenting praise and plenty of freedom and rope to hang myself. My impression is if I had a sister or brother that they would jar me into reality every time I would be feeling good about myself with an insult or a smack in the back of my head: immediate feedback.

On my career journey I have discovered a wisdom I was not expecting. I have found that I do not have an audience (or even pigs towards which to toss!) these pearls. I think that people in my generation are discovering we have failed in our experiment to improve society and are becoming less relevant to the generations that are in our wake. America needed a Generation X president. Have you ever wondered why so many men over fifty years old are consultants or Something or Other Emeritus? These situations are the career opposite of being turned out to stud.

Regardless, one such pearl I’d like to toss out is that you need to make sure that you have more tools in your skill toolbox than Cute. Cute has a limited life span of which I located my end just recently. Actually, I no longer had Cute in my toolbox when I turned 39 years old, I just didn’t know that until I was about 59 years old. Yes, my house has mirrors, but I don’t have siblings to set me straight. Also, I am nearsighted.

Be aware, however, that Experience may not be the word you want to replace what Cute might have done for you in the past. Experience equates to Old and that is not a highly sought out asset in the eyes of many. It is better to take on the qualifications of the job you seek head on and pray that someone looking at your resume knows you.

I have another pearl that I want to share that may be helpful for those seeking new employment. Attitude is crucial for success especially with interacting with people who don’t know your history. Related to this is that I have found in my readings published in this new millennium is that I can happily draw a line connecting many of our major religions. This line is that you have to let go of hate and to love your enemy to be truly free. Nice.

The cynic in me might declare that this conclusion is simply a ploy to calm those who thrive on hate and/or to better prepare others for their inevitable loosening of their mortal coil; but I choose not to be that cynic today. Good for me!

Margaret Mead appreciated the world as a salad bar of so many elements and combinations only limited by one’s imagination. Gender, like color, like culture, like age were to be wondered at and embraced simply for their intrinsic humanness. I love her, and miss her, when I quote her: “I measure success in terms of the contributions an individual makes to her fellow human beings.”

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