The Way I See It Today: TIME’S UP (or, This GenXer Believes You Can Be Too Young, and You Can Be Too Damn Old)!!!!


Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on the South Lawn...

Image via Wikipedia

 

So I’m on Facebook, perusing my stream and I come across this post from Time magazine:  The Top 10 Old Leaders?!?!? 

WTF?!!? 

So I decided to take a peek, to satisfy my curiosity.  

Here’s the list. 

  • Silvio Berlusconi – age 74.  Length of time in power:  8 years.
  • Than Shwe – age 77.  Length of time in power:  18 years.
  • Manmohan Singh  – age 78.  Length of time in power:  6 years.
  • Mwai Kibaki – age 78.  Length of time in power:  7 years.
  • Raul Castro – age 79.  Length of time in power:  4 years (only because his brother, Fidel, wasn’t fit to run for re-election…so from where I sit, 4 years is that plus Fidel’s tenure of what, forever?).
  • Hosni Mubarak – age 82. Length of time in power:  28 years.
  • Abdoulaye Wade – age 84.  Length of time in power:  10 years.
  • Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor – age 84.  Length of time in power:  58 years.
  • Robert Mugabe – age 86.  Length of time in power:  30 years.
  • Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud – age 86.  Length of time in power:  5 years.
  • Let’s look at the raw numbers.  First, the average age is 80.8 years.  I’ve posted the individual ages above.  The “youngest” leader is 74 and the “oldest” of the old leaders is 86.  Wow.  

    The average length of time spent in their present position is approximately 17.4 years. Obviously you have a wide distribution here, from 4 years (Castro) to 58 (Queen Elizabeth). 

    Okay.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anything here that makes me want to jump up and down and do a dance of joy.  Given the state of world affairs these days, I wonder how much of this is attributed to a generation that stubbornly refuses to let go of the reins of power.  

    From where I sit, these folks are holding on…. until the day we have to pry the reins out of their cold, lifeless clutches. 

    Not what I had in mind when I went to college, slogged my way through graduate school, worked and worked and worked, did everything right like I was expected to, and I have nothing to show for it.  

    Pretty sobering reality, until I had a chance to read this list.  

    It’s pretty good work if you can get it.  

    Gen Xers, if you want to be a leader, you’re gonna have to go out and make opportunities for yourself.  What I realized is that no one is going to just “move out of the way” and give you a chance.  

    Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against the elderly, my elders, those who have lived long and productive lives, working hard and contributing to their spheres of influence.  But how can you guarantee some sense of continuity, the passing of the torch, as you will, if these folks insist on staying in charge until they’re 120 years old?  

    As I’ve seen personally in my career, rarely is there a formal succession plan in place to facilitate the orderly transfer of power from one generation to another.  It’s almost like it’s supposed to magically happen.  

    But as we all know, it doesn’t magically handed.  The newly installed leader usually gets handed a 5 pound bag of shit in a half-pound bag.  It’s almost like he/she is getting set up to fail.  

    And then the finger-pointing and blaming ensue:  “He’s too young, too inexperienced, too this, too that.” And that usually is the end of that person’s career.  And what follows?  They’ll go and find some 95-year-old geezer to run the company into the ground. 

    I don’t know what to make of this foolishness anymore. 

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