What’s a Seasoned Woman Leader Used to Being Valued and Respected to Do When Surrounded by Young Sharks? Develop the Dolphin’s Ruthless (When Necessary) Determination and See to Her Own Needs for a Change

She is soon to be 61 years old. You can just tell from her command of the facts, the language and the complexities that she’s a well-educated, highly experienced person with multiple interests and gifts. And that she has bountiful energies and is used to leading. At least, when she’s on top of her game. At the moment, she’s feeling angry and underutilized.

She wrote: “I was caught in a private company’s downsizing that left me unemployed at sixty years of age, unattractive and disconnected from previous networks because my mentors are either dead or retired.”

There was a lot more.

Before replying, I asked my wife, Sherry, to read her long e-mail note also—and we talked at length. How to respond? We felt that this individual is basically healthy. Not so much depressed as irritated. Not down for the count but just slightly discombobulated for the moment. Not stuck but in a pretty fluid frame of mind. So we decided to see if we could help her reframe the anger and feelings of injustice and abandonment. In part, I wrote her:

May I respectfully suggest:

1) You never again mention that you are 60.

2) You never again use your chronological age, inwardly or outwardly, to explain anything about your talents or your situation. What is, is. But being “that age which we won’t be mentioning anymore or any age after the unmentionable age” really doesn’t mean “a pitcher of warm spit” (to quote one of our famous Texas politicians”) about what you do next.

3) You don’t want any more “jobs”; they are crutches. But you may need to take somebody else’s money for what they call a “job” while you are deciding and finding ways to do what you really want to do. Don’t be too proud to take money any way you can make it right now. But understand that’s it’s only a means to an end and put in only the minimum needed to get your pay while devoting as much time and energy as possible to furthering your own goals.

4) Define several “platforms,” not just one. Then work all your contacts to see which platform or platforms seem to have the most promise.

5) As soon as you can, improve your Web site(s). The ones you directed me to are obviously “freebies” and spend a lot more time promoting the Web site service operator’s interests than yours. You need your own Web site designed by you, paid for by you and devoted solely to your own best interests. [And here I recommended my own Web site designer, Manish Sahu, and my Internet service provider and computer programmer, Madhu Lundquist, both very talented, responsible and affordable young professionals.]

6) Quit giving any more of yourself away until you get your own immediate needs met. No more volunteering. No more minimum wages. No more bailing other people out of their self-made predicaments. No more trying to save a world that looks more and more to be beyond salvation. For the immediate future, think “Linda, Linda, Linda” [not her real name] and get yourself focused and rolling. It is okay, for once, to be selfish!

I like her prospects for dolphin-thinker-hood. It’s the most difficult step so far in human development—making the leap from a proto-dolphin mindset into dolphin waters. We wish her much luck because she’s got the brainpower and the opportunity, and dolphin waters seem to be so very close for her.

Manish Sahu is at indusideas@gmail.com. Madhu Lundquist is at madhu@madhuprem.com.  There’s more about the Dolphin Strategy  here.

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