I spend a great deal of time reading and researching issues of the aging population. I recently read an article in the Southwest Airline magazine about a gentleman named Chip Conley. In his book, Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, he describes our ability to continue to contribute in life, including in the workplace, at an advanced age. After selling his career company and then being invited to consult with a new start-up tech company, he suddenly found himself surrounded by smart young business people half his age. The average age of employees at companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook is around 31. What does an Elder have to offer that business world? Beyond the age difference is the wide gap in technological knowledge. Many of us struggle to use our iPhones or to use the multiple remotes for our TV’s. Our lack of tech may cause us to feel inferior, out of date and useless. Chip says nothing is farther from the truth!
My favorite phrase he uses is, “People will be younger longer, not older longer.” Think about it. As modern medical science has enabled us to add years to our lives, many may think it is just living longer in a debilitated state. No! It offers us the opportunity to be younger longer. Not only younger, but more productive and more influential. We've got additional years as a gift to give back to our communities, families and, yes, to the workplace! You don’t have to be a genius to look around and see the need for maturity, wisdom, and emotional stability in the world. Those of us who have lived seven or eight decades have experiences that taught us so much, and there is no substitute for experience. Been there, done that, learned the lesson! In every circle of influence, whether with family, friends or in the workplace, it takes mutual respect and appreciation to recognize that we have much to learn from the younger ones and, likewise, we have much to offer. I love the thought of the Modern Elder - someone who is mature and wise, but at the same time fresh, current and engaged. Join the conversation on Facebook at Just Now Old Enough.