Ages and Stages

It’s important to know what stage you’e in. It’s also important to know what stage someone else is in.


  • As a comprehensive alternative health care practitioner, my husband talks to people who try to address disease at a level that is inappropriate to the stage they’re in. For example, they might want to choose a lightweight approach for Stage 4 Cancer. The measures they favor are appropriate for at-risk and early stages, but not for the severity of their condition. Treatment needs to be stage specific.
  • A retired CEO from a muti-national corporation that you would recognize, “Fred”, shifted from being a power dude to a service-oriented citizen. He commented that no one says on their death bed that wish they had spent more time at the office. While that’s true, I see his new orientation as stage specific, and while he might have been wise to moderate his drive a bit in his prime, his focus then and now are age appropriate.
  • Two dear friends of mine are intensely studying business practices and success skills in their early 60’s. They have been service-oriented all their lives and now want to hone their skills. While they’re building their power base at an age most of us are dialing it back, I applaud them. They went through the stages in a different order than “Fred” did.

Ages and stages matter

  • That’s why “Sherry”, an improvement specialist at a major drug company, got excited at the University of Michigan Lean Office Training about a chart that coordinates indicators of what lean learning stage a company is in with what lean and six sigma tools and approaches would benefit them. For example, a company that fights fires isn’t ready for more of the advanced tools.

Communication is the same way. I’ll applaud a recovering passive who speaks up in an overly direct way. it’s a huge step forward for that person, and I won’t risk confusing them with the subtleties until they’ve fully integrated the step they just took. 

Ages and stages. Just because we change doesn’t mean where we came from was wrong. Life is a process, and each age and stage has it’s own realities, requirements and challenges. So the next time someone says something that doesn’t compute, consider the words from an age and stage perspective. We all speak out of our own paradigms.

I like the Crucial Conversations PowerPhrase:

  • Why would a reasonable person say what they just said?

It’s a great filter for age and stage. 

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