In Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, generativity is a struggle against stagnation that ascends during adulthood. Generativity in the psychosocial sense refers to the concern for establishing and guiding the next generation and is said to stem from a sense of optimism about humanity.
Last week we had another one of those, I wish my Dad was here moments. My wife and I were doing some Family Business and attended the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Scholarship event.
One of the speakers struck a critical cord that we are including in our discussions with Family Business Leaders. Erik Erikson was a German-born American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychosocial development of human beings. One of his 8 Stages was the platform for one the speeches.
The second half of adulthood or Generativity is Erikson’s 7th phase. This is where you should be enjoying your life, your children, your children’s children and mentoring others at work.
Generativity. – During this time people are normally settled in their life and know what is important to them. A person is either making progress in their career or treading lightly in their career and unsure if this is what they want to do for the rest of their working lives. Also during this time, a person is enjoying raising their children and participating in activities, that gives them a sense of purpose. If a person is not comfortable with the way their life is progressing, they’re usually regretful about the decisions and feel a sense of uselessness.
This phase is where Family Business leaders may want to work.
The opposite of generativity is stagnation. Stagnation refers to the failure to find a way to contribute.
These individuals may feel disconnected or uninvolved with their business, community and with society as a whole. “A prolonged period of little or no growth in the economy. Economic growth of less than 2 to 3% annually is considered stagnation. Periods of stagnation are also marked by high unemployment and involuntary part-time employment. Stagnation can also occur on a smaller scale in specific industries or companies or with wages.”
In Family Businesses, stagnation can occur due to lack of a succession plan. It can occur because of success. It can occur because of uncertainty. Grow creates opportunities.
Opportunities to meet new potential clients, and new customers. Grow creates opportunities to learn about financiering opportunities and meet others.
Stagnation occurs because of success and satisfaction. It occurs because Family Business owners “earned it”? They become complacent in their routine. HRB has experienced a number of Family Business owners here are a few examples of the stagnated.Owner 1 – Mornings at the gym, coffee at the same spot, reading the paper, then off to the store; this Family Business owns a number of stores. His business is stagnate. He does not have a 3 year plan. He does have metrics and really does want to be challenged.
Owner 2 – His schedule is more seasonal- summers at the Lake Cottage, a winter trip to Vale, Easter in Florida and golf in the summer. The business is managed by random appearances. His business is stagnate. No succession plan, for vision, just enjoying the fruits.
Family Business owners deserve to get to Generativity. They need to, deserve time with their children and grandchildren. They need to mentor and plan for the future.