She then started an executive MBA at an age when her friends were starting to think about taking their feet off the gas. Instead, she entered what could have been the eve of retirement in full generative mode.
If ever there was a ‘pivot’, this was it. I thought that she would be a prime candidate for offering guidance on the process of ‘taking a fresh look’.
Far from launching straight into prescriptions, she opened with a beautiful affirmation. Much of our hour together involved so much of her listening empathetically that it took me a while to pull together the bits of guidance that she dropped into the conversation (and I have no doubt that there are important bits I haven’t held onto).
This was as much about me reconnecting with my positive energy as it was about her sharing wisdom. It was a master class in how to handle someone coming to you for help.
One of her major themes was doing stuff in the final third of our lives that draws together – and honours – the first two-thirds.
Following on from this was the need to put a stake in the ground with respect to how our output is valued. ‘Not settling’ also applies to the new direction we decide to follow.
It is easy to become shrill about matters of being monetarily valued, but she was being assertive in the most gentle way possible.
Heather introduced me to Otto Scharmer’s concept of the “emerging future”. Without having read his book, the next best way of sharing this with you is this paragraph from Patrick McNamara’s review of Leading from the Emerging Future on Kosmosjournal.com:
“At the core is a shift of the interior condition of the leader. That is a shift of perspective—connected to source, sensing the emerging future and letting go of fighting the old system. It’s about shifting the place from where we operate so there is increased awareness, a stronger sense of purpose, and an intuitive notion of what is emerging … Another critical component is the way [the] model includes all stakeholder groups and integrates across multiple sectors—engaging the whole system with an intention to serve the highest good of all.”
Heather spoke about an exercise she likes to do annually to ensure she’s on the right path, and sent me the diagram that forms the basis of it (alongside). This is a difficult process at the best of times (I can attest to that!), so it’s great to have a neat way of corralling one’s thinking on the issue.
After an hour, Heather Parker the coach excused herself for a meeting with an aspirant journalist seeking career guidance. The young woman was radiating eagerness. How interesting, I thought, for Heather to move on to that particular type of glow, having helped dust off the gleam on a patina worn by my 51 years of living.