A couple of years ago, at mid-career I was hired to join a large and
very complex organization.
The hiring was quite unusual--they didn't normally take in at
mid-career--so the induction training was formal and perfunctory. Most of
the training was normally on-the-job over many years as one rose through
By happenstance two of my colleagues were veterans of the Organization.
Each in his own way loved to tell stories.
In the course of the next few months I was given the kind of training
(education?) that I would imagine a new "brave" entering the warriours
circle or a newly commissioned officer in the military would
receive--stories about incidents (the code of behaviour), stories about
people (tribal rules), famous myths and rumours (the tribal memory),
cautionary stories (survival lore), jokes and scandals (the
organization's folkways/limits of acceptable behaviour).
They spent a lot of time and attention with me--not quite mentoring more
like teaching me how to survive. They could see the end of their careers so
I guess, the jargon term would be they were in their "generative" periods.
Marvelous experience. Very specific, very circumstancial--but I suspect
an almost universal process where the tribe retains its elders.
Mike Gurstein <email@example.com>