OPINION: Disruptors welcome
THIS month our theme focuses on 'Age Disruptors' people who have, in one way or another challenge traditional perception of ageing.
I use the word 'Disruptor' in the modern sense, as a noun with positive connotations. Wizard entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson loves nothing more than a 'disruptor' that is, a person who (often) through inventive means, challenges conventions.
Indeed his Virgin website (www.virgin.com.au) has a dedicated page to Virgin Disruptors and explains it as': "Virgin Disruptors - People Creating Change. Virgin is all about inspiration, innovation and creating tangible change across business and the world."
In this edition of seniors, a Disruptor, is personified by our cover subject, Christine Danton. This 72 year old is all about 'disrupting' the customary ideas associated with ageing. She presents the onstage performances, when there are questions over any performance by a woman that age, let alone one with body exposure.
But there you go, and rather than keeping quiet about it, Christine has taken up motivational speaking to spread the word about what is and what isn't inappropriate ageing.
Last month, we featured the Eaton's, a couple of academics in their 80s, who have written a book putting forth the idea of a new middle age. Seventy-five, they say is middle age and old age about 20/30 years on. They back up their premise, with plenty of longevity statistics to back it up. In a sense they, too are disruptors as they challenge the traditional idea that 50-year-old is middle age.
This Chair Rocks: A MANIFESTO AGAINST AGEISM by American author, Ashton Applewhite is another book that challenges conventional thinking.
Applewhite writes: The myth that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, plays out punishingly in many arenas.
Beliefs that older workers are not worth training because they are slow learners and computer-illiterate are stubbornly persistent, despite high marks from employers on both performance and skills (p.67).
Abundant data shows that Older workers are dependable, punctual, committed to quality, exhibit good judgement, have low absenteeism and accident rates, and are the most engaged of all workers when offered the chance to grow and advance on the job. Yet, because of ageism, employers constantly use age as a liability and set workers with decades of productive years ahead adrift. (p.172).
How our generation ages is very different to other generations, yet often we are stuck with the same beliefs, prejudices, stereotypes that result in ageism.
I hope the profile, news and views in this edition, blow a fresh breath of air and disrupts the the dust of ageism.