On November 9, 2006 I started the ‘Seniorpreneur Project’ on the website called seniorsdaily.net. On this website I posted my first message- a ‘mustard seed’ that grew into a movement:
Quoting from my own book, Encore! Encore! Seniors (50 Plus) As Entrepreneurs: Their Time Has Come on (page 9) I said that, “I would like to take the subjects of finances and lifestyle for seniors to a different higher level. hopefully, this could see a movement where seniors are empowered to become (business and/or social) entrepreneurs, or as I understand them to be seniorpreneurs. This would enable seniors to live a more enlightened retirement life and give them a great option to be more productive and be able to contribute more to society.”
I mentioned this before but it’s important to mention it here again in the context of seniors knowing how and when to plant a ‘mustard seed’.
After settling his bills, Colonel Harland Sanders (KFC) was penniless at the age of sixty-five. The Colonel’s ‘fixed income’ at the age of 65 was a Social Security cheque in the amount of $105. Many of our seniors today are at the same crossroads just like the Colonel had been at one time in his retirement life. With the help of the right entrepreneurial mindset, motivation and utilizing his own interests, abilities and circumstances Sanders planted a ‘mustard seed’ that empowered him to create a successful small business around the new business ideas of a secret mixture of herbs & spices, and a pressure cooker method for cooking chicken. And, the rest is history.
Question- How Can Seniors (50 Plus) Express Their Own Individuality More in their ‘mustard seed’ planting?
There is a latent ‘mustard seed’ ready to be planted by many Boomers/Elders in the 50 Plus demographic. Former Edmonton Senior magazine columnist Louis Broten who passed away recently on May 7, 2013 at the age of 99 had many insights into some seniors issues. In his book titled, ‘Looking Forward Looking Back Broten said that, “in these distressing times it is easy to forget that senior citizens have been brainwashed for over 30 years into thinking that all the platitudes expressed by governments in word and deed about the debt owed to our pioneers were sincere. They might have been at the time. Now we are looked upon as parasites upon society. We have become complacent and have concentrated solely on enjoying our retirement to the fullest extent,” (vis-a-vis taking time in retirement to plant a mustard seed or two).
Broten was also questioned by several reporters about senior citizen activity. They were very interested in what was taking place with seniors. However, it appeared that they had insufficient knowledge of conditions affecting seniors, their views, the function of seniors centres and where they were located. Even today as we are studying the role, place and value of seniors centres we must somehow add the advocacy component and to encourage seniors to plant a ‘mustard seed’ to give them a time of productivity, growth and self-realization.
Question- What might happen if there are not enough ‘mustard seed’ plantings by the Baby Boomer generation?
The Rock band, The WHO in their 1965 rock anthem My Generation sang, “Hope I die before I get old”. The sneering words, delivered by lead singer Roger Daltry, and the song remain icons for the Baby Boomer generation to this day.
More ‘Mustard Seed’ Plantings OR Growing Old In Despair?
The theme of growing old in despair is real and it needs to be discussed by all the generations in a collaborative effort.
Canadians 65 and older have the highest suicide rate of any group in the Country. About 33 out of every 100,000 individuals in that age range die by suicide in Canada annually. And older, white males are the most likely to commit suicide, a benchmark 2005 study found.
Dr. Paul Links is a chief of psychiatry for St. Joseph’s Health Care in London, Ontario Canada as well as serving as professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry at Western University. He says that predicting the future is a fraught business, but the prospective mental health of Baby Boomers needs to be discussed.
Dr. Paul links says that, “identifying those at risk is the first step and we know some Baby Boomers have experienced high use of drugs and alcohol in the past. Now they feel hopelessness and anger on a scale that may lead them to suicidal options”.
Our very popular Mayor of the City of Edmonton, Stephen Mandel at 68 stressed the importance of community support to avoid the pitfalls of aging, including neglect and abuse.
“Being part of a greater community is really important. Isolation is really the enemy,” Mayor Mandel said.
So, not every Senior(50 Plus) is interested or capable of planting, growing and harvesting a ‘mustard seed’ but I think that we should organize and develop a business support group, that is run by successful seniors in the past. Our main goal would be to help as many 50+ social and/or business entrepreneurs as we can to enhance their own quality of life, and have them contribute more to society. i.e. productive longevity.
The Author, Louis Broten said, “In summation, we need a “wake up call” to all seniors; we need to drop our snowbird mentality; we need advocacy action at the centre level; and we need central legislative council to weave it all together”.
Then, and only then, can we as citizens create the climate for a better society for all, remembering that unless we make it a good place in which to live for us all we have no moral right to make it a good place for any of us.