Listen: Modern Elder Academy mentor Angela Galloway talks to Laura Bennett about embracing later life
It’s bizarre that while most of us would say we want to live a long, fruitful life, society also has these deeply engrained attitudes about “getting older” that label middle-age and beyond as this kind of mediocre wasteland of discontentedness.
Given our “later years” are set to last even longer as life expectancy continues to increase – in fact, the Australian Research Council reports that by 2050 it’s expected that over 55s will make up about 40 per cent of the adult population – it’s a fairly bleak appraisal of a season that has the opportunity to be satisfying, reflective and legacy-leaving.
If all goes according to plan, your wish to live a long life will be fulfilled. You will get old, and you’ll have the wisdom of years to enjoy as you embrace the satisfaction of caring a lot less about what other people think, being secure in your own skin and, hopefully, let go of any grudges and bitterness you know better than to hold on to by now.
Sure, the alternative is also true: you could be full of regrets, niggling grief and nervousness about the possibility of losing your health… but those feelings aren’t reserved for the “mature aged” and can be processed.
Launching this year in Australia, after opening in Mexico in 2018, The Modern Elder Academy (MEA) is hoping to change our relationship with ageing, reframing the midlife narrative from one of “crisis” to “calling”.
“To age successfully you have to be able to navigate transitions,” – NY Times bestselling author Chip Conley
Its founder, Chip Conley, is a NY Times bestselling author and hospitality entrepreneur who, after founding the second largest chain of boutique hotels in the USA at just 26 and then selling them at 50, re-purposed his skills when Airbnb’s young founders asked him to guide their promising home-sharing start-up – disrupting the hospitality industry to create the world’s largest hospitality brand.
What Chip realised was that he could teach his millennial counterparts about longevity and the industry’s nuances, while they could teach him about technology and innovation.
This intergenerational, mutual mentoring provided the inspiration for Conley’s book Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, which in turn, became the inspiration for founding the Modern Elder Academy.
“To age successfully you have to be able to navigate transitions,” Chip said.
“There’s a whole culture out there telling us that getting older means becoming less relevant.
“But MEA deems that wisdom and experience has never been more important in the workplace… or in the world.
“At MEA, we believe in making ageing aspirational.
“It’s about creating a life that is as deep and meaningful as it is long.”
MEA will be conducting workshops at the Blue Mountains faculty in February 2022. More information and dates are available via their website.
Listen to the full conversation with Australia-based MEA mentor Angela Galloway in the player above.