Impact, Hallmarks and Legacies

“If you don’t stick to your values when they are being tested, they’re not values: they’re hobbies.” ~ Jon Stewart (b. 1961)

There are 450+ million of us worldwide; 80 million alone in the U.S. where 10,000 more are adding to the ranks each day! We comprise 26% of the U.S. population and our segment is growing. We are a force and a voice. We are… Baby Boomers.

I highlight this not to disparage. I truly appreciate many characteristics of all four generational cohorts. Yet, as a “late boomer” (born 1955-1964), I am partial to the Boomer generation.

Why? Part pride. Boomers have shaped the world with technology innovations in just about every area of learning, especially in physical science, sociology, psychology, and technology. They invented the personal computer, the internet, satellite networks, etc. Most of America’s technical engineers are Baby Boomers. And Boomer values changed society in the U.S. with regard to women, race, sexual mores, the economy, even clothing. If you’re wearing jeans to work as you read this, credit a Baby Boomer.

Baby Boomers are the most educated generation in American history. They value and respect education and they’re insatiable learners who are constantly on a quest of personal development. They value mingling with others and forming lasting relationships. They appreciate face time.

While the full trend is still developing, it seems certain Baby Boomers will remain a large and active part of the workforce (perhaps to the chagrin of others). Business strategies are being designed to play on Baby Boomers strengths, reflect their shared history, and accommodate the late stage of their careers and the prioritization of values associated with this stage. As previously stated, we’re a force, not a threat. Baby Boomers epitomize teamwork, collaboration, and collective contribution.

Each generation brings similar values to business and personal life experiences. What is promising about our future is that as you and I (regardless of generational alignment) continue to grow, we appreciate mutual values for the concepts of family, integrity, achievement, love, competence, and purpose.

Maybe even humor. 🙂

For Baby Boomers, money isn’t the most important thing they want to leave behind. They don’t just want to leave an inheritance; they want to leave a legacy. A legacy of what they value. In a recent Allianz Insurance survey, 75% of Baby Boomers said passing down values and life lessons was more important than leaving sums of money to subsequent generations.

Why? According to Keith Ogorek at the firm Legacy Keepers, Baby Boomers lived through a time of reshaping the culture. They made their mark in everything from ending segregation to protesting the (Vietnam) war, the sexual revolution, and women’s rights. I don’t know about you but that seems some exhausting work; aspects of it life and society-changing.

It’s not surprising then, that as Baby Boomers grow closer to retirement, they want to bequeath some of their valuable lessons – even though they’re still learning!

In a follow-on post, I’ll pose some questions that, as a Baby Boomer (and easily pondered by other generations), you may reflect upon as you consider your values and legacies.

9 thoughts on “Impact, Hallmarks and Legacies

  1. Well now I know who to blame for all that stress that surrounds me daily!! You all baby boomers have brought social changes of epic proportion in almost no time,leading to a breeding ground of competitive world. When you guys were so smart enough to bring all those changes within a smart phone why did you passed on an environment that promoted technological revolution and crippling our lives to gadgets. 🙂
    We would have loved to stick to our values, but it’s not easy when the definition of value if evolving so fast!! e.g. Things that were frowned upon a decade ago are a norm & things that were norm back then are frowned upon now.

    • On behalf of my generation, Yatin, I apologize for *some* of the stress that has infiltrated your surroundings. But not all of it. 🙂 As I often write about, much of what we’re subjected to in our daily lives is choice-centric. We don’t necessarily have to use or accept the technological creations that are available today. There are days when I’d like to crawl back into a cave and just live uber-simply. In the end though, you get to choose your values and how you align with and live them. They don’t have to relate to what once was, is today, or may be tomorrow. Pick those that you authentically believe and admire. Make them your own and feel no need to reconcile them with anyone or anything else. You’ll be fine, Mr. Millennial (I’m guessing). 🙂

    • Wait… you’re blaming the BOOMERS for the changes you — a GenX/GenY person — are experiencing? That doesn’t make sense. Much of what the Boomers influenced happened long before you were even conceived.

      The changes you’re experiencing are due, for the most part, to the KIDS of the Boomers… along with THEIR kids. Those are the people who have been altering the definition of values over the last 10 years. The Boomers still have the values they’ve always had. They’re more mature — because the people have matured — but the foundation is still the same as it’s always been.

      It’s the values CURRENTLY being established / built / created by the GenX’ers and Y’s that makes the world seem so unstable & confusing. Eventually, we will have that rock-solid value foundation that the Boomers currently enjoy. And, whatever younger generation that comes along will think WE are causing the confusion.

      No blaming needed. It’s just the natural path of most any society. 🙂

      • I hope you didn’t take my comment seriously; it’s only a light hearted. I have high regards for BB & had a great rapport with few I had worked with in recent past. I don’t think BB is adding any stress to current generation apart from the fact that major chunk of Social security is being burned writing their checks. 🙂 I hope we don’t have to scrape the bottom when we retire.

  2. Thx for the post, a reminder not all boomers are selfish jerks. (Sorry to be so blunt, but really tired of the scapegoating.) Remember some of us, are like you, children of immigrants where our parents just pulled out of WW II and landed in North America. Then our mothers gave birth of us. (My mother did ….to 6 children in Canada. My father was a cook his whole life. We will probably pay for their nursing care because they are poor. So are we selfish?)

    I actually feel sorry for the younger generations who have waaaaay more distractions of technology. So stop, value not incessant checking of email, twitter and Facebook minutiae. But instead take time to plumb deeply to learn about your community where you live and see what you can do to help. Then use that technological savvy to join us and improve the world. We’re there…we’ve been there to help with the social movements –racial civil rights, women in working world, gay rights (it was our generation for North American movement)….

  3. Interesting thought Eric, the previous generations indeed did not seem driven by the need to leave legacies behind, they just were happy to survive and pass the baton to the next generation….

  4. That they were. Their perspectives and values were different. But they were also rock solid and genuine. I believe legacies came more to the fore when personal wealth became more common, something synonymous with the BB generation. Thanks for sharing a relevant thought!

  5. I was born a few years too early to be a Baby Boomer but I am very close and identify with them. It is nice to find a mature voice like yours. Thank you for the recent visit to my blog to comment and follow! I live in neighboring Texas but enjoy visiting New Mexico very much. I had not seen Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Flag” until I read her biography and had to find it. I like it very much too!

    I like the tone of your blog and will enjoy following it!

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