Coaching For Third Age Fulfillment


Donna Krone

What is Third Age fulfillment and how does it become important from a coaching perspective?  Those are the questions that I was attempting to answer when I signed up for a virtual class with seven other “Third Age” coaches and two facilitators from The Center for Third Age Leadership.

The real draw for me came from my introductory discussion with Melita DeBellis .  I’d heard her description of the course on a Tele-class where she piqued my curiosity.  Later in a private discussion I was drawn to her intelligence and relaxed easy manner.  She is joined by Nancy Cosgriff ,  the other “wise elder,” who is equally charming and very well versed in Third Age principles.  Since I was interested in making “Third Agers” my coaching niche, I set out to learn all I could on the subject.

The course is based on William Sadler ’s book The Third Age; 6 Principles of Growth and Renewal After Forty.  Although reading the book on its own is very helpful for  working with Third Age clients, the class helps to lock in that learning with an experiential approach.  In the time span of an hour and a half every Tuesday evening, information is shared, stories are told, and insights are discussed.  I find that actually listening to individuals who are struggling through and embracing the developmental tasks of Third Age makes it more real and more memorable.

The benefits of this program are two fold.  The first is that you receive information that is helpful when coaching Third Age clients and the second is that you benefit personally.  Every week you are given homework assignments which have you reflecting on your own experiences and beliefs about this period of growth and change.

In the last couple of weeks I have found myself mirroring back to my Third Age clients the developmental task they are describing in a coaching session.  What I have found is that this helps to “normalize” what they are experiencing and frame it in a more understandable light.  My favorite one is the concept of BOTH/AND as opposed to EITHER/OR.  When I catch myself stuck in Second Age EITHER/OR thinking and reframe the issue as a BOTH/AND, lots of possibilities open up.

As in any program, what you put into it, you get out of it.  There are weeks when I have lots of time to reflect on the assignments, and those classes seem to really resonate.  Other weeks I may fly by the seat of my pants, like when I tried to do my homework during my son’s little league game – well you can guess how much self-discovery happened that week!  

This is a pilot class and, like any pilot. I know it will continuously change and improve over time.  Already I have witnessed changes that are increasing the value of the class experience.  The lecture time has deceased and the interactive discussions have increased.  In my estimation the more visceral the learning the better, and that shift is occurring.

If I were to highlight the best part of this virtual classroom, I would highlight the ten different people in this Tuesday night community.  They come from different geographic areas; from the Midwest, the East Coast and Canada .  Their ages range from 45 to late 60s.  Some are living alone and some are still bringing up children, but they all share one thing in common.  They all see the power and the value of sharing aspects of the human experience with open hearts and with courage.  They do this in service of their own and their client’s personal growth, fulfillment and happiness.  For me, that is inspirational and time well spent!

 Thanks Nancy, Melita and Bill

Copyright 2005 Donna Krone and The Center for Third Age Leadership, LLC