As the last of the Baby Boomer’s begin to look back at their careers and lives more than a few are no doubt thinking of leaving their mark. This thought occurred to me as I read the New York Time’s piece on Bloomberg’s attempt to redistrict the Midtown area of Manhattan - a final mark left on the city, another milestone in a storied career as a private industry maven and chief executive of the greatest metropolis in the world.
The aging Baby Boomer’s have a conflicted past. The generation that cured polio is also the one that invented the atomic bomb; the generation that defeated Communism is also the one that abused its leadership role in the Americas and stoked, what we now know was needless conflict in Southeast Asia.
However, what struck me about the Baby Boomer generation most, was not that they were now preparing for their final act, but that it is taken for granted that their final act had to be grand. The never failing need to leave with a bang.
These are men and women (mostly men) of a different time. The last moment when the world was still unconquered, before global commerce and communication set in. But, the world has changed around them, and though many have adapted their dress and strategy to them, they have found the mores of the past harder to shake.
A principal, long espoused by the park rangers of this country, is coming to the fore: leave no trace. In a world where so much has been appropriated, optimized, harvested, not doing has become a new call to action. Would Ford or Carnegie think to take “Don’t be evil,” as a company maxim? Of course not. For them the world was there to be conquered. They were kings, not stewards.
Today, however slowly and however ineffectively, we are moving away for this vision. My food for thought for the Baby Boomers as they head for the exits is: Maybe leaving no mark, is the best mark of all.