How Many Generations Overlap With You That You Can Appreciate?

Many of us see early spring as a time of renewal and rebirth. And for those of us in the northern hemisphere, early spring also has religious celebrations. Passover starts tonight and Easter starts this weekend. For me, that’s family time. And, we are fortunate to have three generations at our table this year. (We’re down from four generations last year, which means this is also a time of remembrance.)

That got me thinking about generations.

For years, we’ve named various generations. My parents belonged to the “Silent Generation.” (They weren’t very silent at my house.) I’m supposedly a Baby Boomer. My children are supposedly Millennials. The people who named the generations also attempted to brand those names with characteristics. Most of those characteristics don’t apply to the generations in my family. However, we never focused on “normality.”

But, the idea of appreciating people with different perspectives on work and life (and everything else)? I find that refreshing.

While I’m still friendly with the Silent Generation, I tend to work with people who are in their 20s to their 60s. And their children and grandchildren, including my grandchild? Oh, it’s so wonderful.

Even as our tools have changed, people are still human, physically growing at the same pace. We get to choose how to grow emotionally and intellectually.

Instead of thinking about generations and what separates us, maybe the questions should be:

  • Who was alive when I was born?
  • And who is alive now, and will still be alive when I’m dead?

Our lives overlap. I suspect it starts with who you know.

Who Do You Know and Appreciate in Which Generation?

No one in my family is big-F Famous. We’re only “famous” in our little circles.

However, I’m fortunate enough to have known these Famous people:

  • Joseph Weizenbaum, the creator of the Eliza program. As a “special student,” I took a semester-long course from him at MIT. It was fabulous.
  • Gerald M. Weinberg, prolific writer and teacher. I was fortunate enough to work with Jerry long enough to also call him a friend.
  • Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, software architect and design pioneer. I’ve also worked with Rebecca, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Those are just some of the computing pioneers, people who helped me think.

The agile pioneers? Too many to mention and varied age ranges.

The people who take my workshops tend to be younger than I am. And I have learned a ton from them, as they have learned from me. Those people will be alive long after I’m gone. (I hope.)

And that brings me to the generation overlap. I can’t imagine working with just one generation. Younger people drag me (sometimes, kicking and screaming) into new ways of working and new tools I can use to my advantage. My colleagues and I might remind some of those people that we had figured out how to work back before they were born.

We give and take, discussing how things should work and how to make them work. While I tend to have more process-based discussions with my clients, I actually discussed a product’s technical internals the other day. (!!) Yes, things have changed, but my (old) knowledge is still useful. (I will admit, only up to a point.)

Consider Which Generations to Invite In

I’m not going to discuss inviting (or not!) family members. However, for work and social activities, consider this: the more varied experience each person has, the richer your experience might be. Consider inviting more varied generations to your activities, especially work.

And if you celebrate a holiday this weekend, I hope you choose to include many overlapping generations to appreciate. I am sure my grandson will teach me many things.

That’s the question this week: How many generations overlap with you that you can appreciate?

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