Turning 50(or 60,70) Means Keeping Up, Not Resting

If you wonder on a daily basis , as I do, as whats really happening at the workfront, it will give you some comfort reading this WSJ article on a middle manager in his 50s. as I have always argued in my blog, a new breed of management model is urgently required. Models which will go beyond Flat worlds, which will potentially shed light on decades of upcoming struggles. Models which Governments worldwide will use to create new programs to help their own citizens. Else we are doomed with rusted thinking which is prolonging agony across decades. Read on…

“I know I’ve peaked in my career,” Mr. Toal said at the time. “I am never going to be a vice president. But I’m running as fast as I can, and I don’t know why.”

OB-YK824_0805MM_D_20130805115902To other middle managers, I’d say: Be flexible and open to taking on new challenges because it makes you quick on your feet, gives you more understanding of how a company works.

One of the things I did learn is that it’s really hard to choose your own path. Things happen, and you go with it.”


New Skills, Old Tasks

To stay afloat, he has reinvented himself again and again. Once specializing in managing production, he learned marketing, then purchasing, then finance. He gets up at 5 every morning and doesn’t get home until 8 p.m. Yet he still does essentially the same job he did 10 years ago: overseeing a small staff, making revenue projections and supervising expenses in the sales division and resolving disputes over salary compensation.

Only this year did he get back to earning the salary he made in 1989.

When Mr. Toal’s father, a union machinist, was 54, he had already begun planning for retirement, was respected by his union and company management, and had become active in the local United Way. Mr. Toal recently stopped coaching his 16-year-old daughter’s soccer team because he has no time. He can’t imagine retiring because he has no pension—just money in a 401K plan and a series of worthless stock options. He pays $27,000 a year to send one daughter to Simmons College in Boston. His other daughter heads off to college in two years. His wife works part time as a teacher’s aide.

Eyes turn to Mr. Toal. “No clue,” he says. “I feel like I’ve peaked in my career, but I don’t think I’ve peaked as a human being.” He loosens his tie. “Things are not what any of us anticipated–that with natural talent, hard work and good moral values, there would come some sense of stability. There is no security and no stability.”


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