The Myth of Age and Wisdom

I was talking with a friend recently about our careers, life, and the concept of wisdom. Over the years, too many of us have been taught that there is a direct correlation between age and wisdom.

What I’ve come to find out is that we often assume that older always means wiser.

We look up to and think that just because someone has been in a job, or lived longer, that they know more about business and life.

All too often it turns out that people in the height of their careers, or middle aged couldn’t be further from the wise sage they would like you to think they are. The main reason is that there is no evolution, no development, and no change as time goes on.

January 1st rolls around, they hit rewind and go back and start to do everything that they did the year before. The only difference is that it has been 365 days since they did it last time. Instead of having 45 years of wisdom, they have one year of wisdom 45 times.

They don’t learn from their mistakes, they continue to keep their head down doing the same things over and over again, just hoping for a different result. Yet, solely based on age they somehow are put on a higher level than others, because they have been around longer.

Sometimes, the person above you is the person you need to be most aware of. Pay attention to their advice, their insight, and their view on what is or isn’t possible. Are they in management because they are a creator, thoughtful, passionate, and a person who inspires? Or, are they there simply because they have been around for a while? When you look closer, it is easy to see if they are more excited about having people below them, than they are about finding what is above them.

Far too many people in leadership roles aren’t doing what the title says. They aren’t leading, leaders are doers. Too many people in management are squatters. They just want to keep their spot.

We all need to challenge ourselves to break out of the cycle of repeating the year. To stop having the same year of experience over and over and be open to new ideas, concepts, and innovation.

Otherwise we just keep walking the wrong way on the moving walkway at the airport. We put in some effort, but we really don’t go anywhere.

As a result, we need to be just as thoughtful as to who we take our advice from. Is the manager providing you with the insight, guidance and opportunities for advancement, or are they more interested in keeping you where you are?

Let’s get back to “living” life. Taking risks, being creative, stepping out of the status quo, and stop assuming that showing up each day and doing the same thing means we are learning anything new.

You will get older no matter what you do. The question is, will you learn anything along the way?

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