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It all started when?

3 ways to go

I am almost at the end of my 66th year. I can remember when I started work, the retiring age was dropped from 65 -60 and at age of 21 that seemed like an eternity away – then it dropped to 55 – and it was rushing downwards – no one anticipated then that it would move upwards – no one imagined that by choice people would want to stay at work post 65 or even post 60. It was just not on the horizon.

Just imagine I was an Arts graduate with some law subjects working as a law clerk – photocopiers had only just come into being –I remember this because my job was to replace the paper and copier fluid for the office copier – special training was required! It was one of a number of legal/clerical tasks.

My work back then filled in the time between 8-6 – then there was my “real” life. For me it was cricket in the summer and rugby in the winter and squash all the year round – not to mention social activities -some part time study. Not distinguished but done all the same.

I also spent a few years in the CMF. (Now called the Army Reserve).  I wont be remembered for outstanding service!

It is fair to say that work was fun for all the wrong reasons – great friends – the usual pub sessions. The discipline was looser then! Some counseling sessions about focus on work and study so I could get ahead!

But to where? And then a number of things happened. I went on a world cricket tour, following my girl friend (now wife) who was overseas. I changed organizations and moved into a research position. A prescient boss saw more potential in me than I saw in myself and selected me for a “management development” program. I did not know what that was but it sounded good. Who wouldn’t want to go for 10 days to Tangalooma on Moreton Is. to learn about Management and Organization Development (OD).  I really had no idea!

It was a life changing experience. In fact it was Sensitivity Training Group for 5/6 days and a learning group for 4 days. Sensitivity Training is a method of group training that focuses on helping participants develop better personal awareness, better interpersonal skills and an awareness of group dynamics. In the group in which I participated there was very little structure! And the facilitators were very low profile and non -interventionist! It was an extraordinary experience. I actually discovered a form of learning, which made sense to me and was more relevant than anything I had studied to that point.

Over the 10 days – there were a number of experiences, which enabled me to grasp the world in a very different way!

It had “touched my spirit” and I didn’t understand it!

There was a time in those 10 days when I can remember being in a “learning group” and I remember sharing emotionally with the group: “this is what I am going to do for a living!” It was a profound moment! And terrifying! I really wasn’t clear what it was but for the first time in my life I had a sense of my own direction, not one influenced by my family!

I can remember ringing my fiancé (now wife of 40 years) and announcing I had changed.   Much to her surprise! And some concern!

On returning from that event I was full of it! The search was on! And I continue the search today!

From that point, I decided I wanted to learn about it and I went into a “learning frenzy.” I started reading with a focus I had never had. I attended weekend workshops and completed a postgraduate Business Admin Degree. I actually attended a number of programs on marriage so I at least knew what it was about. One of my big discoveries was the whole area of human spirituality? This was a topic that was as mysterious and exciting as it was challenging. (And it covered the whole of life?)

In this journey, which continues to this day I discovered a pathway.

So what did I discover?

There was such a thing as experiential learning, group dynamics and group process – personal development was an important learning process – there were various therapies –Gestalt, Psychodrama, Neuro Linguistic programming –spirituality was an important part of it all – somehow it was all related to work – it was a whole new world.

In addition to my work, I discovered it involved my marriage, and my life.  I could see the possibility of integrating it all.  I attended programs with my wife on marriage and communication because I knew that I was married for life so it needed to be the best it could be. It needed a solid foundation. Stumbling around was not good enough.

My work? I discovered there was such a career as training and development and Personnel Management. That being a “Change Agent” was an option. These were emerging bodies of knowledge that I needed to master. There was so much to accomplish, to master. I was on my way. The was a pathway! To where?

When I look back on that time it is still a seminal “window of time” in my journey. From that point I have continued to work at it! And it has never stopped!

Helen Kellar once said that “Life is a daring adventure or nothing!” Having now attained the ripe young age of 66 I concur!

Why is this important when I am 66?: Well if retirement is when you stop work to do something you love – I need to say that I have been retired since July 1975 when I went on that first management/organisation development program at Tangalooma –and there are many in my life who might agree!!

 

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Ben Kehoe