The Fourth Turning and Your Place In History
June 16, 2005
Have you ever stopped to wonder why you have a desire to teach team skills? After reading the book "The Fourth Turning" by Neil Howe and William Strauss, I realized why I teach teams skills. I now clearly understand my place in history as a teacher of team and leadership skills.
The Fourth Turning outlines a profound theory that suggests history moves in cycles (history is NOT a linear progression), much like the cycles of the seasons. Each season lasts approximately 20-25 years with a full cycle of the seasons lasting 80-100 years.
Moving through these seasons are (large) groups of people or generations - - a generation is composed of people whose common location in history lends them a collective persona. Recent generations are Baby Boomers (born 1943-60), Generation-X (born 1961-81), and Millennial Generation (born 1982-2005). You might know the Millennial Generation as "Generation Y", but Millennials don't like the "Y" designation because they don't like being seen as an extension of the "X" generation (the generation Millennials have the least respect for).
Why is this important to those of us teaching team and leadership skills? Read on...
Howe and Strauss say that we are at the end of fall and about to start the winter cycle of history (if we haven't already). Winter is always a time of huge change. To put this in perspective, take a look at the past three winters we experienced here in the USA: The Great Depression & World War II, and the winter before that was the Civil War, and the winter before that was the Revolutionary War.
The generation that "comes of age" during the winter (the crisis) is referred to as the "hero" generation. The "G.I. generation" is the last generation to fall into this hero archetype.
What does this mean?
1. We (the US and likely the world community) are about to experience the winter season, a time of great challenge (a period of approximately 20 years).
2. The generation that will come of age during this crisis is the Millennial Generation - - our next Hero generation. The lion's share of Millennials are in school - - elementary, middle, and high schools as well as colleges and universities. The oldest of the Millennials are now 23 (just out of college)
3. One of the most important skills for any hero generation to master is that of teamwork. ALL hero generations must master team skills because the challenges they face will be so demanding (remember WWII?).
4. The book describes how individuals and society should prepare for the Fourth Turning. As you might imagine, team skills are absolutely critical in a Fourth Turning - the challenges are so great that they can only be solved through a massive amount of teamwork.
5. Therefore, your desire to teach team skills (esp. to the Millennial Generation) is in PERFECT harmony with the cycles of history.
Listen to my interivew with Neil Howe (co-author of The Fourth Turning). I suspect you'll gain some real clarity about why you feel compelled to teach team skills.