Friday, May 10, 2013
Do You Age-Stereotype? A Small Rant
I understand why these categories exist--it gives us a quick shorthand to understand our audiences or our colleagues. But I've come to think they're not particularly useful--and in fact, may be particularly destructive in our efforts to work together. Nina Simon's recent post about her museum's work in social bridging--bringing groups and people together--is something that we can all learn from. And we might want to start that social bridging--that creative collaboration-- inside our own organizations.
Perhaps it's because I've spent my career either in small museums (where, as a young professional, an ability to work with different generations wasn't ever optional) or as an independent professional, where coasting certainly isn't an option.
Do I know old fogeys of my own generation that are coasting towards retirement? Absolutely. Do I know young fogeys who are hiding in the basement coasting towards a fifty years from now retirement? Yes, sad to say. But at the same time, I know colleagues older than I am who are pushing towards new ideas and understandings and young colleagues who are elbowing their way into the field with new ideas in hand. My own career has been enriched at every end of the spectrum--from senior citizen board members in my first director's job to my young colleagues in Ukraine who push museums forward despite some pretty serious hurdles.
So stop complaining about generations and get looking around. Find the creative people in your organization or in your community and begin working with them--no matter what age. Get going!