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The Generative Game of Life

Sixty years ago Eric Erikson's great phrase "Identity Crisis" became the cry that baby-boomeranged around the world. But until recently it seemed our famous population bulge wasn't ready for the eminent psychoanalyst's more demanding charge: Generativity, or "a concern in establishing and guiding the next generation." Now, as data pours in on just what makes some people truly good for their communities -- what empowers the people who are giving shape to some slice of the future -- one idea is coming clear. Generative people tend to be those who have worked through their identity crises. Their life stories -- good or horrible -- tend to be coherent. They're dealing with their stuff, figuring out who they are. In other words, self-help isn't selfish. It's an ongoing first step in simply knowing that there are definite stages of change -- and that each stage takes its own time and dedication -- will help give you the strength and faith to keep moving forwards... Remember how old you were when you got rid of your favorite childhood pillow? Be honest now. Think! Maybe it was so long ago that you don't remem …

Stephen Kiesling is editor in chief of S&H. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.

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