Middlescents: stuck in the middle with you?

Sep 15 2006 by Neil Cassie Print This Article

Millions of people aged between 35 and 54 age – the so-called "middlescents" - are burned out, frustrated and dissatisfied at work. To make matters worse, they have all the angst of teenagers, but all the mortality fears of those in their middle age.

Like adolescents, middlescents often feel confused and bored. It is not unusual for them to question their existence and ask themselves if they have achieved everything in life that they had expected to achieve.

In the UK alone, middlescents make up a critically important 40 per cent of the workforce. Yet vast numbers of these reliable, expert and valuable individuals feel lost, stuck and burnt-out.

Worse still, they don't have the confidence to talk to their bosses about it and their bosses ignore that which doesn't appear to be broken.

So, are they a lost cause?

Well no because lurking in the findings published recently by The Harvard Business Review is the discovery that Middlescents have a "hunger for renewal".

Based on The Cassie Partnership's experience of working with this group of managers in some of Europe's major companies – where we help them to close the gap between their company's vision and their behaviour – here is our '5 Step Renewal Plan' for Middlescents.

Step 1:   Write your 'Story So Far'
Go back to when you were at college or even school and try to remember yourself then. What were your passions? Why did you take that degree course? How did you get your first job? How did it feel to be promoted the first time? What have you become really good at? What was your best day at work? Who has inspired you and who have you inspired?

Step 2:  Share Your 'Story So Far'
However well or badly you feel you write (for instance, you may have jotted down a series of bullet points, or drawn a graph rather than write a passable novel), share your story so far with those closest to you in both your personal and work life. Listen to your own voice as you tell your story to see what it is revealing to you. Also, as well as listening for clues from the responses you receive, ask whether your friends and colleagues 'recognise you' in the story.

Step 3:  Discover Your Real 'Value'
From all the thinking, feedback and analysis that you have undertaken to this point look for what lies at the core that defines your value. Not your experience, expertise, reliability, c.v or skills – but the unique, inherent, intrinsic quality that makes you tick.

The quality you recognise when you go home from work and "be yourself again". The quality that, above all, your family, friends and colleagues would miss if you weren't there.

This is 'your value'. You will find it running through your 'story so far'.

Step 4:   Dare to Dream
Using your 'Value' as a personal beacon, dream the impossible dream. Don't dream of getting promoted or solving all your previous problems. Dream of the environment you will be in when your 'value' is being fulfilled. Dream of those around you – who is there, what are you all doing, how are behaving and what is the mood, tone and feel of your mutual experience?

Make going back to being a Middlescent your worst nightmare

Dream of the ideas that you had buried over the years coming to life and dream of your bosses listening to what your need are as you strive to make the ideas a reality.

But most of all make going back to being a Middlescent your worst nightmare.

Step 5:   Write your 'Story to Come' and the Plan to Make it Happen
Your 'Story to Come' should galvanise the experience and the energy that you have gained during steps 1 – 4.

Rather than being a 'wish list' it should be a detailed, actionable, inspirational vision that celebrates your 'value' but which also aligns you with your company's vision and values.

It by no means should be exclusively work related. You must incorporate the nourishment that you will need to keep your 'value' vital and alive going forward. Finally, you must convert your story into a plan that defines - and sets out to manage - the implications. For this, you will need the partnership of those around you and your bosses. Make them partners in the crime and never again will you feel lost and alone.

And never stop renewing and re-telling your story.


About The Author

Neil Cassie
Neil Cassie

Neil Cassie has 20 years of advertising agency experience and is founder of The Cassie Partnership, a consultancy that assists CEOs of large organisations to close the gap between their company's vision and their peoples' behaviour.