Friday, August 17, 2007

Do you have NEOTENY?

We've had fun and crazy postings these past few days, except for Men's History of Daet. So, for a change, here's a more serious stuff. I hope this article will inspire us to enjoy life, in spite of our age.

This came from the blog of Edicio de la Torre. Do you know him? He's a former SVD priest, a political activist who was jailed by Marcos, an intellectual who continues to engage in social development work. He has a lot of accomplishments to his credit. I'm lucky to have the opportunity to listen to his ideas recently. The NGO I work with now is a member of a consortium, where Ed is actively involved.

By Edicio de la Torre
July 30, 2007

I didn’t encounter the word “neoteny” until I read it on page 20 of Leading for a Lifetime. Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas call it the one quality of overriding importance that they observe in everyone of the “geezers” who continue to play a leadership role at 70 plus years.
They have borrowed the term neoteny from zoology, where it is defined as ” the retention of youthful qualities by adults.”

But they extend it beyond youthful appearance to the qualities associated with youth - “curiosity, playfulness, eagerness, fearlessness, warmth, energy. They say that unlike those defeated by time and age, the geezer leaders they studied have remained much like the young geeks - “open, willing to take risks, hungry for knowledge and experience, courageous, eager to see what the new day brings.”

Reading through their description of neoteny, I was reminded of Dan Sullivan’s first “law” of lifetime growth: Always make your future bigger than your past.”

In their words, “time and loss steal the zest from the unlucky, and leave them looking longingly at the past…Neoteny keeps the fortunate of whatever age focused on all the marvelous undiscovered things to come.”

Almost 3000 years ago, Solon described himself in neotenic terms: “Each day he grew older and learned something new.”

Contemporary senators are called “solons” after him. Scanning our current crop of 23 senators, young and old, I want to believe that they can inherit not just Solon’s name but also his neoteny. However, a Bible passage immediately intrudes: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!”


Daet Parochial School Class 67 said...

Hi Toti,

Fr. dela Torre was our guest sociology professor during my Political Science days in San Beda. He and Charlie Avila of the Federation of Free Farmers, actually influenced my political views during those times. I was not surprised when he was jailed by the Marcos regime.


Rory Serra said...

Hi toti,
nice article you wrote on Neoteny. It really makes my day. At least once in a while we really go to the serious stuff.

Sor Victorina de la Providencia, Mother Superior of Daet Parochial School

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