May 10, 2008

Riding the Lifecycle

While creating my new website and uploading articles I had written I came across the book review of Nonprofit Lifecycles: Stage-Based Wisdom for Nonprofit Capacity by Susan Kenny Stevens. This is one of my favorite books because it uses a methodology taken from social work. Usually I apply it to analyzing organizational development but now as I reflect on my ReGenXer life and how so many of my friends are also going through life changes I can see the social application of Kenny Steven's Lifecycle theory.

Kenny Stevens states that organizations go through lifecycle stages that are categorized as: Idea, Start-up, Growth, Maturity, Decline, Turnaround, and Terminal. In fact, each function of the organization also goes through these stages - financial management, governance, client services, publications, membership, etc. The steepest portions of the curve are the two ends - Idea and Terminal. The apex is Maturity. Turnaround is the critical stage at which it is determined if the organization or function can be brought back around to Growth or should be Terminated.

I'm telling you all this as a backdrop to my own life, which interestingly seems to be paralleling the lifecycles of so many of my closest friends. We are in relationships and employment that has hit the Decline stage. Perhaps it is a late 30s or early 40s stage that everyone hits (mid-life? mid-career?) or possibly it has something to do with ReGenXers, our lifestyles or even our career paths? Maybe it is the impact of globalization? We hit that Decline and do everything we can to Turnaround the relationship or employment. Some of us get stuck there for a long time - because of obligations and the ripple impact of our looming choice. Perhaps in previous generations people would have stayed at Decline and never hit Terminal. Not us, we make changes no matter how unconventional, impactful and challenging.

Something about ReGenXers encourages us to look inside and find a Turnaround in parallel with Terminal. We end our marriages, leave our jobs, move to different countries, find new ways to build support networks and start over. We are fearless about this process, even if it is incredibly painful. Is it that we have a strong need to for self-actualization?

So here I am Turning around again and I am not alone. Friends and family connected electronically across the planet gently offer each other support as we develop new Ideas and move into new Start-ups. We nurture each other's Growth and intertwine our lives.