I’m going to talk about “Self-Renewal. One of your outlook in life essay fundamental tasks is the renewal of the organizations you serve, and that usually includes persuading the top officers to accomplish a certain amount of self-renewal. But to help you think about others is not my primary mission this morning. I want to help you think about yourselves.
I take that mission very seriously, and I’ve written out what I have to say because I want every sentence to hit its target. I know a good deal about the kind of work you do and know how demanding it is. I’m going to talk about some basic problems of the life cycle that will surely hit you if you’re not ready for them. I once wrote a book called “Self-Renewal” that deals with the decay and renewal of societies, organizations and individuals. I explored the question of why civilizations die and how they sometimes renew themselves, and the puzzle of why some men and women go to seed while others remain vital all of their lives. It’s the latter question that I shall deal with at this time. I know that you as an individual are not going to seed.
But the person seated on your right may be in fairly serious danger. Not long ago, I read a splendid article on barnacles. I don’t want to give the wrong impression of the focus of my reading interests. Sometimes days go by without my reading about barnacles, much less remembering what I read. But this article had an unforgettable opening paragraph. The barnacle” the author explained “is confronted with an existential decision about where it’s going to live. For a good many of us, it comes to that.
We’ve all seen men and women, even ones in fortunate circumstances with responsible positions who seem to run out of steam in midcareer. One must be compassionate in assessing the reasons. Perhaps life just presented them with tougher problems than they could solve. Perhaps something inflicted a major wound on their confidence or their self-esteem.