Like millions of my fellow Baby Boomers, I deeply care about the future of our planet and the well-being of current and future generations. My concern is based on the values I grew up with on a farm, in a small village in West Germany after World War II. Growing up in that village, I could see the immediate impact of a person's actions on others and on the community as a whole. Wherever I traveled or worked around the world, I took these lessons with me. This realization hit me during a business trip to Asia in the year before 9/11.
Jet-lagged, I had awakened in the middle of the night and turned on the TV only to find a news story about an ethnic war in Africa, in which paramilitary troops of one ethnic group were raging through the villages of another -- cutting off the arms of every little child they could find. They forced the father of each child (with a gun pointed at his head) to hold his own child's hands during this brutal act. At that moment I thought of my son at home, and I identified in a very painful way with these fathers, imagining myself in their shoes. At that moment, I became painfully aware that, after nearly 30 years working in two successful careers, I had yet to work on the world issues I cared about most.
After two years without making a decision on how this experience should change my career direction, I walked the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain (The Way of St. James,) hoping some sign would show up. Thankfully, that sign came during the 35 day walk, in the form of a conversation I had with a fellow traveler, where I helped him to rediscover his passion for painting. He later let me know that this conversation had inspired him to transform his community into an art town. Through this experience I came to realize not only my talent and passion for coaching, but also how coaching can be an effective way to mobilize a person.
Although I had started to use coaching more and more in my business and management career, it wasn't until three years later that I made the connection to the emerging field of social and environmental sustainability as an opportunity to help people find meaning and greater purpose in their work. At the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (B.G.I.) at Pinchot University, which was pioneering a new M.B.A. program to lead social and environmental innovation, I learned about the inspiring work of Dr. G. Venkataswamy (Dr. V.). After retiring from government service at the age of 58, he became a social entrepreneur, developing the Aravind Eye Care System which provides low cost eye care services, preventing blindness or restoring eyesight for millions of poor people throughout India.
Dr. V's case and many other cases that I studied had one thing in common: their success was based on the ability to mobilize people to find and implement solutions. I became convinced, if one could mobilize enough people throughout the world, many of the big issues that threaten the future of our children could be solved. One of the biggest pools of people ready to be mobilized can be found among the 76 million Baby Boomers in the U.S., as demonstrated in the 2014 study by Encore.org and Penn Schoen Berland, which states that 25 million Americans 50 to 70 years old are eager to share their skills, passions and expertise to address social and environmental needs. (http://www.encore.org/files/2014EncoreResearchOverview.pdf)
About 10 years ago, I started deliberately coaching Boomers to help them find and make the transition to new careers aligned with the issues they care about most. As I worked with clients and researched the challenges that people face in transitioning to a career with purpose, I discovered that most people either: A) do not know how, or B) are afraid of the risks involved, in making that change.
This inspired me to develop The Boomerang Approach that allows people to follow a simple and practical step-by-step process to find and transition to a role aligned with their passions, strengths, and issues they care about most.
While this approach has already helped many people to find careers aligned with what they deeply care about, The Boomerang Approach can help many more Boomers who are eager to meet the world's deep needs.
-- Reiner Lomb