Is Our View of "Work" Impacted by 'Mental Maps' Built During the Ages of 11 - 13?

In coming across a very interesting HBR Article from Tamara Erickson, "Are There Gender Differences Within Gen X?", I began to consider how not only the different generations, but also different genders within the different generations looked at the notion of "work" and careers (not to mention life in general).
Noted is specific research conducted by Swiss biologist and psychologist Jean Piaget which suggests that children deal with abstract concepts and build cognitive structures—mental maps—to help make sense of their experiences between the ages of 11 to 13.

The central questions that emanate from these mental maps revolve around the following:
  • Which events had the biggest impact on you?
  • How did they cause you to assume the world worked?
  • What priorities did you set for your life, as a response?
As for me, I can vividly recall the Challenger Disaster in 1986, the Berlin Wall falling in 1989, and certainly the dissolving of the Soviet Union in 1991.  How these events shaped my view of life and "work" are issues that I never truly considered . . . however are truly worth discussion.
I can also relate to the article's suggestion that, "Gen X children became the first generation of "latchkey kids"—home alone many afternoons, often depending on friends for both companionship and support."  I also highly agree with the following: "Teenage X’ers also witnessed a significant increase in adult unemployment, as corporate restructuring dramatically revamped any concept of lifetime employment. Most teen X’ers knew some adult who was laid off from a job that he or she had planned hold until retirement."

How about you?

Joshua Letourneau
Mg Director, SSF (Strategic Sourcing Framework) Implementation
LG & Assoc Search / Talent Strategy
BLOG: www.lgexec.typepad.com

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