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There once was a time not so long ago when words spoken from a man’s heart delivered true impact upon humanity. No, this is not about some long-dead Greeks from ancient times that you have forgotten by now if you ever learned of any of them in the first place. This is about what happened in a big city half a century ago in the United States of America in our extremely violent culture.
It was half a century ago when a young candidate was enthusiastically seeking to be elected that November to the office of President of the United States. He never made it.
Robert Francis Kennedy lived but 42 years, yet his impact for “mere” spoken words puts him in the rarified company of significant ancient and contemporary leaders. Why is this so?
Many people feel a palpable fear of speaking in public. This is precisely why I often cite a little-known event in 1968 where RFK spoke as a direct way to help my coaching clients understand that, yes, there are correct ways to speak in public. RFK spoke to a crowd in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, yet most people never were taught about this in their American history classes.
So, let me try to make up for those weak American history teachers everywhere who failed to teach their students about this important event. RFK had a previously-scheduled campaign speech on his calendar for the evening of Thursday, April 4, 1968 in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Indianapolis. His original purpose for speaking that evening was to solicit votes in the next day’s Indiana Primary.
His arrival in Indiana plunged RFK deeply into history. He landed at Indianapolis airport within an hour or so of the Memphis, Tennessee assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the most visible spokesperson and leader of the civil rights movement of the 20th century. RFK knew that he could not simply walk into that predominantly African American neighborhood in Indianapolis and ask people to vote for him the next day.
Instead of his prepared campaign speech, RFK spoke for only about five minutes without visibly relying upon any notes. He shocked the crowd by expressing to them very bluntly that King was shot dead and there was evidence that white people were responsible. He also directly said he understood how that crowd in Indianapolis could respond with bitterness, hatred, and a desire for revenge.
Even more shocking was that RFK in Indianapolis spoke for the very first time spoke about his deep feelings following the shooting death five years earlier of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. Clearly, RFK connected with that Indianapolis audience because he chose to speak from his heart about his own feelings of bitterness, hatred, and a desire for revenge after his brother was murdered.
The white mayor of Indianapolis warned RFK not to go speak to that predominantly African American crowd because the mayor feared there would be violent responses of a specific blacks-against-whites racial nature once the news of King’s murder that night because widely known. Obviously, RFK was of a totally different mind than the white mayor of Indianapolis.
While other major cities in the United States erupted in racially-motivated violence over the next several days, after RFK spoke in Indianapolis, there were no riots. He dared to ask that shocked crowd directly to dedicate themselves “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” His life was ended savagely by gun shots in Los Angeles two months later.
Some remember that night as when RFK saved Indianapolis using mere spoken words. People nowadays tend not to speak directly and from their heart minus bitterness and hatred like RFK did that night in Indiana. In stunning contrast, I perceive of one elected leader in the United States today whose spoken words are entirely in service to himself and because of that are absent the power “to make gentle the life of this world.”
Whenever we hear the name Edison we are reminded of light. The man was an American inventor and entrepreneur whose name was Thomas Edison. He let nothing stand in his way of achieving what his mind came up with.
His surname rightfully stands today as a brand for innovation.
Edison certainly is remembered for making many improvements upon other men’s inventions, notably the light bulb and telegraph technology. However, I think of Edison for something less well-known: He was quoted as urging people to make requests of their subconscious minds before they went to sleep at night.
If someone were to listen to that advice from Edison, they would have to accept that there is genuine and true connection between what we think about in our minds and how happy and successful our lives turn out to be. This kind of perspective on the built-in power of one’s mind as the root of our happiness is not commonly accepted, of course. That would be too sensible.
As for me, yes I am happy to quote Edison whenever I mentor and coach people. I am happy as well to share the name of my website, happier life (dot) coach.
I know what happiness is. I am an advocate of the belief that happiness originates within each of us. I teach people how to tune into their own mind and take certain steps each day to achieve and maintain happiness. Doing that makes me feel very good.
That focus on the space between our ears turns out to be far more important to our happiness in this life than how expensive our clothing is or whether our feet look attractive in designer boots. I’m someone who finds happiness wearing distressed blue jeans and walking around barefoot.
I hope you will think of Edison for at least a few days after reading this. I further hope that you will tune into your the power you’ve already got in there in your mind to start creating a happier life for yourself–personally and in your career. Do you see the light bulb going on yet?
I was employed at the national headquarters of AARP in Washington, DC from 1995 through 2006 in their communications and outreach operations. These views and opinions that I express here are mine alone and do not necessarily align with the views and opinions of AARP.
The very short history of how AARP got started is this:
In Los Angeles during the 1950s, the first female high school principal (Ethel Percy Andrus) during her retirement formed an organization (the National Retired Teachers Association) to help make it possible for teachers to buy life insurance by spreading the risk of insurance payouts to a large pool of people.
That risk pool approach generated a lot of revenue from the sales of life insurance to teachers. An affiliated organization known as the American Association of Retired Persons was formed to make possible the sales of life insurance beyond teachers. That is how the abbreviation AARP came to be.
What is AARP today?
Over the decades, AARP became much more than an organization to make possible life insurance sales. Andrus became known as an elder rights activist. She ultimately established AARP in the District of Columbia half-way between the White House and Congress to focus upon lobbying of the executive and legislative branches in elder rights issues. What had once been an insurance sales operation morphed into national advocacy on behalf of the quality of life for elder citizens.
The primary reason why some consider AARP lacks credibility and is therefore deemed to be a “scam” is the simple adherence to partisan politics. While AARP members (people over 50) are said to split more or less equally into three groups—independents, Democrats, and Republicans, the people who manage and work at AARP tend to support federal approaches for elder citizens that typically have been favored and supported by the Democratic Party.
It was Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd US president, who signed the federal Social Security program into law back in 1935. From the days of FDR to today, Republicans consistently have opposed Social Security in particular and any federal government support for caring for elder citizens. Republican George W. Bush, the 43rd US president, in 2003 signed into law changes in the federal Medicare program to pay for prescription drugs for elder citizens, which AARP supported. That challenged one traditional partisan political view that only the Democratic Party cares about elder citizens.
If you can free your mind from partisan political filters you will be able to evaluate AARP clearly and accurately.
[Originally posted on Quora.com March 3, 2018.]
I worked for just over a decade in Washington, DC at the national headquarters of AARP where I developed an awareness about employment challenges for older workers (people age 40 and beyond) that I share here today with you. AARP switched their marketing focus to appeal to people born from 1946 through 1964, which was a departure from the initial AARP target audience of people born during or before the Second World War. This marketing change was so AARP could remain relevant at least from 2011 through 2029, the span of years that the baby boom generation hits age 65.
Whether AARP is the best organization to benefit you as an older worker (versus a retired person) is not the focus of my commentary here today. But, it is true that AARP consistently has tried to socialize how people today can try to cope with workplace age discrimination.
The marketing phrase that stands out for me is this one: “Age is just a number and life is what you make it.” Various versions of that sentiment found their way into AARP marketing over many years since the mid-1990s. There is some logical truth in that phrase, of course. However, in the real world, how many birthdays you’ve reached has much more significance than being “just a number” for you.
Experiencing age discrimination in the workplace (either while attempting to get hired, or, on the job, itself) in the United States happens to be what’s “normal” for most people. Some career paths, of course, are exceptions to this cultural norm. But, most of us have already learned painful lessons from our experiences with workplace age discrimination.
I work as a professional life coach and business improvement coach. On the personal coaching side, I mentor people who are older workers to reinvent and restart as the preferred way to fight back against workplace age discrimination. The methods I use are proprietary, but I can describe here how this works.
Very few people are born with a built-in skill to use their mind always for their own good and prosperity. So, I teach people that skill to augment what’s already in their set of skills. What happens after my coaching, consulting and mentoring is a person becomes confidently skilled at using their mind in proven ways that lead to their own good and prosperity. There is no magic or medications and nothing to take. Anyone with a mind that works can attain this newly-acquired skill.
Older workers know that age discrimination is reality. No marketing campaigns from any organization can diminish this. Age discrimination will not go away for you in the workplace if you attempt to “appear younger” by coloring your hair. White hair looks cool. You can fight back against such workplace discrimination by learning how you can use your mind to succeed personally and professionally and leave your competitors behind.
Reinventing and restarting yourself at any age is neither simple nor painless. But, not reinventing or restarting yourself may lead to you remaining stuck in life. Don’t let that happen.