Redefine Yourself with a Portfolio Lifestyle
A portfolio lifestyle is about taking control of your own destiny. Your unique portfolio defines you rather than a full time job defining the way you spend most of your time. It isn’t a new idea. The concept was originally introduced by Charles Handy in his amazingly prescient book ‘The Age of Reason’ in 1989. Handy describes a portfolio lifestyle as… as ‘a portfolio of activities – some we do for money, some for interest, some for pleasure, some for a cause…the different bits fit together to form a balanced whole greater than the parts.’ This portfolio of activities is unique to you and defines your total life. The concept is wider, though includes the element of than a portfolio career where several streams of income form the basis of financial freedom. A Portfolio Lifestyle isn’t just about what you do but about who you are…
There has never been a time when a portfolio lifestyle has been more important but there is not much understanding about what it is and how to achieve it. Many younger people in their 30’s and 40’s are leaving permanent employment after years of frustration with the current ‘Hustle culture’* and many are under threat of redundancy or job restructure. Some set up as contractors, others do online work as part of the ‘Gig economy’** and others take a gamble on buying a Franchise business. Some are jumping from the frying pan into the fire as they struggle to get work or deal with cash flow stresses and lack of social support from colleagues. Many are being forced to accept more than one paying job to pay the higher costs of living…and are so tired that they are unable to escape an ever decreasing spiral of low earning.
For people over 50, retirement isn’t what it used to be! There are now more people over 65 in the workplace than ever before and most of them want to stay mentally and financially engaged. Unfortunately the number of full time jobs is diminishing while the number of people over 65 is increasing! Charles Handy wrote about the future of work in 1989: Organisations will not employ many people over 50. Core jobs*** will not last forever. Age discrimination will prevent it. High energy, high agility jobs require much younger people. Only a small amount of wisdom will be required in corporates that require a knowledge base where they will be coaches and mentors to younger people. Does this sound familiar?
I believe that it is particularly important that everyone over 50 should understand how to create a portfolio life for the turbulent future we are facing and about how to manage this opportunity for self-sufficiency.
Who is this for?
A PL is for those who are driven to change their lives and plan to do it with as much security as possible. Once designed and applied, a portfolio lifestyle is far more secure than an employed one. We have just been conditioned to think that employment is safer. Are you ready for a portfolio lifestyle? Are you…
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If you would like to live a more independent life with the freedom to define your own priorities for the future, a portfolio lifestyle could be for you. Wellness for most of us depends on financial security, independence and control of our own lives. Planning for the life you want can lead to a healthier, happier and rewarding life that is within your own control. Most of all, a P.L. is about leaving behind the mind old set of ‘a good job’ and to bravely redefine your life for yourself and your family. It is time to re-think the way we are working and living.
What to do now if you are interested…
Explore further. I have developed a five step journey to living your dream through a portfolio approach. Planning is best done before leaving a secure job – but it is even more important if you have taken the leap already.
Janis Grummitt Writer, Speaker and Coach
Janis and her husband have been on their journey to a portfolio lifestyle for ten years. Janis is well known as a leadership coach, team developer and wisdom expert in the corporate world. She also speaks and coaches in her local community. They are both social Anthropologists, with John also having a psychology qualification. They would never go back to employment and have learned a great deal along the way! Why not take advantage of their experience and that of others who are treading the path to the future?
Janis offers online materials, personal coaching, talks, workshops and blogs. She uses a five step journey and her own profiles and tests to clarify your unique potential for wellness and success. She shares her experience, guides and supports you through her five steps to realising your dream life by reinventing your life. She networks you online and in person with others who are on the same journey. Contact her at Janis@workplacewisdom.co.nz
* 'Hustle culture'
Hustle culture is the mindset that you have to pour every single second of your day into “work.” it goes past being a workaholic, because workaholics at least eat and drink and sleep. They just spend all waking hours thinking about work, wanting to be at work, or working. #Hustle culture takes it a step further
** 'Core job'….
Handy used a Shamrock to describe the organisation of the future. Only highly qualified, younger full time employees were designated as the ‘core’. The other two leaves of the Shamrock are sub-contractors and temporary workers – who make up the majority of the organisation.
*** 'The Gig economy'
The gig economy gets its name from each piece of work being akin to an individual 'gig' – although, such work can fall under multiple names. It has previously been called the "sharing economy" — mostly in reference to platforms such as Airbnb — and the "collaborative economy". However, at its core are app-based platforms that dole out work in bits and pieces — making deliveries, driving passengers or cleaning homes — leading some to prefer the term "platform economy".
Hustle Culture :
The Hustle Culture and mentality out of Control? Forbes
The Toxic World of Hustle Culture. Financial Review.
Handy’s Shamrock organisation
The Gig economy
What is the Gig economy? Wired.
Why everyone should consider building a portfolio career. Forbes.
The Boomer Initiative - an Exciting Challenge for the Next Decade of Work
As a social anthropologist, I believe that human beings work together far better in multigenerational groups and communities. At work, we rarely consider the importance of a vertically balanced group of employees and yet it is one of the most powerful ways to get results with wisdom and wellness.
We have become aware of the need to take advantage of diversity in many other important areas: Gender, race, ‘strengths’ and even thinking preferences. Age diversity is now become the new basis for cultural strength in organisations. As the enormous Boomer generation prepares for retirement, we need to think about retaining their contribution to the workforce. Why?
The way forward for organisations is to adopt diversity through flexible working practices and leadership. Personal development and ongoing learning are the keys to building wisdom and intergenerational strength at work. Having a strategy for change in the organisation and good tools creates a framework for a new agile, well and wise community that engages individuals.
Here are the three challenges for action of the Boomer Initiative to build a successful culture through intergenerational working:
In future, there will be more Boomers than other generational groups. Leaders will be able to choose and develop the best people for their organisation. For those who need to leave, take time to recognise their value and support them to transition well. In this way they can have flexible ‘portfolio incomes’ and purpose. The remaining work culture will be wise, well and naturally supportive as successful human communities have always been.
Robert F Kenedy's Speech in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968,
on the Death of Martin Luther King
Not a blog but a speech about wisdom from many years ago. How much more appropriate is this today?
Ladies and Gentlemen — I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening. Because...
I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.
For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
(Interrupted by applause)
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.
(Interrupted by applause)
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much. (Applause)
Robert F. Kennedy - April 4, 1968
I knew about climate change…about not buying a house on the flat by the sea, about the tendency to have a warmer, wetter and more violent climate. What I didn’t realise was how quickly this will impact us all wherever we live. Like many others, I thought we had years to prepare. I was wrong.
Last week we listened to Council’s Climate Resilience and Sustainability principal specialist, Dr Sarah Anderson She is currently co-leading on the development of an integrated Climate Action Plan for the region, addressing both reducing emissions and preparing for climate change for Auckland and NZ. The statistics from NIWA research are shocking.
A very simple explanation of the situation
I am not a scientist but what I understand is that there is a build-up of gases blanketing the atmosphere that prevent heat from escaping. These gases are a combination of natural and man-made. Then there is accelerated warming of the atmosphere. This is partly because of these gases but also related to things like deforestation, and burning fossil fuels. So, more heat on earth and less chance for it to escape. This has led to other factors in turn, like the melting of the ice caps which is compounding the original problem. For instance the melting of the ice caps may also be de-stabilising the Ocean’s currents so that countries previously warmed will be colder, and sea levels are on the rise everywhere.
What will we experience in the next few years and beyond?
Unfortunately, this change is so dramatic that even the experts underestimated its speed. Our brains expect change of this scale to take hundreds of years or at least decades. We are ill equipped to deal with sudden shifts that are cumulative and connected. Even scientists still tend to examine linear impacts rather than integrated outcomes. Very few people understand climate change in detail…just the political arguments that all have a vested interest behind them.
This is our planet and our future…it’s time everyone knew what is happening and take action. The research and data is all out there, so have a look if you think this is overly dramatic. If in doubt – do something to help.
This information is from government – not extreme survivalists!
Why climate change matters
What can we all do?
So what simple things can we all do?
It all seems so big and interconnected across the world. Well yes, the big changes need to be made at government level, but in the meantime there are many things that we can all do to prepare for the inevitable and help to stop making things worse. Here are a few of them under three categories:
2. Be resilient for yourself and in your communities.
2. Prevent further warming
3. Prevent or offset more build-up of atmospheric gases
The truth is we can all say that natural causes of gas emissions are far greater than the ones we create…volcanic activity and the melting of the icecaps. This is true, but human beings can have a significant impact and there is nothing we can do about nature. It is also useless to say that other countries are more to blame than us…so what? That doesn’t help us all in the next decade.
We need understanding, hope and action. Without hope, the situation is hopeless! We can all change something, what is the first thing you can do? Let’s start talking and acting together.
Changing our approach to ageing to build a stronger economy
Our approach to ageing needs to change if we are to create a sustainable society that is economically stronger. We live in challenging times where the best protection is a brain that can easily and safely take advantage of the changes around us. Unfortunately, our ageing brains do not do that automatically – we need to work on it ourselves.
Do you think you are old?
How old are you? Chances are that unless you are over 65 you are unlikely to feel old. However, your brain is ageing from middle age. When you reach 70, do you want comfort more than respect? Many of us do, falling into safe and comfortable lives that are encouraged by all aspects of society around us. For those who can afford it, retirement villages offer ways to be with friends and have an ‘easy life that you deserve’. Relatives tell you to ‘take it easy, after all you aren’t as young as you were’ and even doctors tell us ‘don’t worry, it’s just old age’. This influences our approach to aging and even though some individuals may be enjoying that ‘rest’ I believe it is causing society a level of complacency that we cannot afford.
Better Brain Building Impacts the Economy Substantially
Make no mistake, brain health and improvement is a social and economic problem. Even if you are not worried about your own mental state, consider the impact it will have on the rest of society. As you may know, mental decline is a major risk for the country and unless we take action we are on course for perfect storm of dementia over the next two decades. At present approximately one in 20 of us will have some form of dementia over the age of 65. If you live to be among the oldest old, over 80, you currently have a 1 in five chance of being demented. Bear in mind that not only is there a ‘bulge’ of over 65s, but due to advances in medical science, the oldest old are the fastest growing cohort in most first world countries. We are all growing older.
Are you part of the problem or the solution?
At present, greater numbers of old people correlate with statistically higher levels of dementia and we support this older group financially and socially. There is an economic figure called the dependency ratio which puts this into perspective. Over the past few years, although the figure varies from country to country, this ratio has been estimated to be on average about 50 – 50. That is about fifty per cent of people are being supported (financially and socially) by the other fifty per cent. Dependents include young people as well as disabled and older, but because of the impact of the ageing population, over the next twenty years this ratio is expected to rise to 70 – 30. That is, seventy per cent of the population will be supported by thirty per cent. Young and disabled people deserve to be supported by those of us who are able.
Choose to contribute
However, unlike young and disabled people, many over 65 can consider the choice to contribute or become part of the problem. Economically, politically and socially the strain is already starting to show; parents are not only supporting their children, but also their own elderly parents; governments are taking measures to hold back pension entitlements as they threaten to bankrupt the country. Worse still, we are losing the potential contribution of wisdom from thousands of older people.
The Challenge of Brain Building
The reality is that most of us can build better brains as we age. Better is the important word. We can’t all be geniuses – but we can contribute or at least be self-sufficient as we age. We can avoid or postpone effects of dementia and even develop wisdom which is a very useful trait! Scientific research over the past few years shows that we can change our own brain throughout life. This ability to change, called neuroplasticity, is the key to having a better brain as we age. Brain development happens automatically in young children, the experts call this neuro plasticity (the natural ability of our brain to adapt to circumstances around us). Our brains are designed to learn and until the age of 30, our changeable (plastic) brain only needs to be exposed to external experiences and it creates itself.
Forty and Beyond
I was slightly dismayed to from learn Michael Menzevich (the acclaimed father of neuro plasticity) that at age 30 we are at the height of our automatic physical brain capability. That is, the framework for understanding the world is developed and the desire to learn more becomes diminished. Despite this the peak of capability may not be reached until around 40 because there is a long ‘tail’ of retained capacity which combines with more experience. Our brains flourish but after that, without extra effort, essentially it is all downhill!
Accept a new Challenge
Don’t worry! This is the point at which effort, persistence and curiosity start to make a huge difference to the person who will later reach 80. In short, left to its own devices, our brain will wither if we do not take control and develop it. Some people (like Einstein) continue without any ‘brain training’ through their insatiable curiosity which drives them into new areas of knowledge and experience until they die. For those of us who are not as naturally curious, recent research shows that all of us can simulate this state of a youthful and strong mind through some simple activities and easy changes in lifestyle.
I was relieved to learn (from Menzevich and others) that our brain is perfectly capable of changing and developing all though our life – not just before 30 or 40.Those who continue to build a better brain after 30 can be examples of wisdom and genius. This is the combination of experience, ethics and altruism which comes with age combined with a faster, flexible and focused (more youthful) brain capability. The problem is – we need to take action and make an effort! ‘Comfortable’ is attractive but causes brain fade and ‘difficult’ is unattractive but creates strength. How do we convince people to take the harder road ahead?
Shift from the bottom to the top of the Cliff
Delaying pension payments is reactive – adding more dementia units is too – it is putting the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. I want to know why we aren’t putting more effort in to prevention of dementia by encouraging people to develop their brains; development of existing potential for wisdom in thousands of aging people. Then we could see this risk of an aging society as its greatest potential.
Preventing or delay dementia and harnessing the wisdom of more elders, we can change the future of society. However, as long as we accept that the brain automatically declines with age we are lost.
I have personal experience to share
How do I know this and why do I care? In 2007 I had a brain tumour removed which left me with brain damage. Friends wanted me to accept a lesser and more comfortable life. However, I read Norman Doidge’s book ‘the brain that changes itself’ and I believed I could re-wire my brain but that this was unlikely to be a natural process. I put years of effort into developing a personal programme - none was offered to me and the attitude was ‘you must just be glad to be alive’. Thank goodness I did that because although my brain is always a work in progress, I believe that it is better now than it was 11 years ago.
Make an informed choice
To make an informed choice, people need to know. I speak to many people who have had strokes, traumatic brain injury or early onset dementia. Many have not been told that with practice and lifestyle changes they can build a better brain. They need hope, their families need hope and they need guidance. I meet younger people who had never thought about their brain who want to start now – to avoid future decline. Very wise! Above all, each of these people will be able to contribute to our economy or at least avoid the ignominy of being supported by it.
Be part of the change for a better future
The best scenario is that the dependency ratio will shift when more retirees can become a benefit to society through offering experience, adaptability and ethics. This is wisdom and–we certainly need more of it! However, we will only get it when we change our approach to aging and start to be proactive about building better brains for ourselves and encouraging everyone else.
Janis Grummitt is the General Manager of Workplace Wisdom and the Chief Wiring Officer of Wiring Warriors. www.workplacewisdom.co.nz and www.wiringwarriors.com
We are all born to be wise. Our brains are wired with the potential for wisdom at birth. As we age we can develop that practical common sense and moral awareness that combine to produce that most sought after capacity – practical wisdom. A definition of practical wisdom is the ability to know how to do the right thing in each situation for the right reasons. The work of Workplace Wisdom is about understanding and practicing in the right way to become a wiser person as we age. It introduces and applies the simple, common sense that has become so uncommon today.
The difference between spiritual and practical wisdom
So I am not talking about spiritual wisdom here although practical and spiritual wisdom are often found together. Others are far better qualified to guide the personal quest for eternal, religious or metaphysical development of the spirit. Practical Wisdom is a very simple but powerful state that we can all achieve in our everyday lives.
We already recognise it
Practical wisdom is often recognised but rarely defined. I was at a 60th birthday party recently where at least three of the speakers acknowledged my friend for her ‘wisdom’. Her wisdom is not spiritual; another speaker described her as ‘not doing God’ – she is very ‘down to earth’. It is something that we respect people for and it is a state that develops over a lifetime through experience. Even though we can intuitively recognise the ability, there is a need to put a framework for developing practical wisdom in place for us all.
Wisdom and knowledge are different
‘Knowledge is identifying a tomato as a fruit. Wisdom is not adding it to a fruit salad’. Anon
Most people agree that there is a need for more wisdom today, but some people mistake knowledge for wisdom. Practical wisdom is developed through practice in the real world; through experience, trial and error, reflection and adjustment. Knowledge is only part of the equation; reading and academic qualifications are useless and can even be dangerous if used alone. ‘Knowing’ the answer without first applying the tools of wisdom will result in poor decisions. Theoretical knowledge is useful as a guide for reflecting on personal experience; a scaffold for building deeper understanding and judgement. Knowing what and why needs to be subjected to ‘how’ in many different contexts before knowledge becomes wisdom.
A benefit of aging
Practical wisdom is age related. It takes our brains many years to connect the dots though knowledge, experience and control of our thinking and feeling. This does not happen automatically; there are many older people who aren’t wise! It takes intent and practice and it is important to practice the right things at the right time.
I look at work with four stages of age related development; each stage requires different practice. In youth we have the physical energy and are given allowance for breaking established rules and as we age there is the potential to develop good judgement, compassion and altruism. It is important to take the right action at the right time to develop wisdom.
Personal and collective wisdom
We can practice individually to develop practical wisdom. A small team or a larger community, such as an organisation, can develop a wise approach. It is not necessary for everyone in a team to have wisdom although it requires at least one person. Teams and organisations need frameworks and cultures within which wisdom can be respected, used and encouraged to grow. Practical wisdom, like a plant, will grow easily if given the right support and nutrients!
Why we should all aspire to develop wisdom
In their book ‘Practical Wisdom’ Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe sum this up: ‘Wisdom is not the mysterious gift of a handful of sages, but a capacity we all have and need.’
Let’s develop our innate capacity for wisdom.
Janis Grummitt offers advice and development options for Practical Wisdom. See more here: www.workplacewisdom.co.nz