It’s only during the last couple of years that I’ve started to notice my age relative to others around me in the workplace. It became particularly noticeable a couple of years ago when I started working at one of the ‘big four’ consultancy firms in London. The diversity in age, ethnicity, and background I discovered amongst my new work colleagues was immediately refreshing and exciting, but I suddenly started feeling like ‘the old guy with grey beard and battle scars’.
While it’s probably a label that I’ve entirely assigned to myself , the truth is I don’t mind it. When I interact with my colleagues on a daily basis, the diversity of our team shines. There are clearly attributes and perspectives others bring to the table that I don’t. I’ve realised, however, that one thing I do bring is wisdom.
Whilst there are frequently days when I feel anything but wise, as a general observation I do notice some of my younger colleagues often getting frustrated or animated about the latest ‘initiative’, the latest management appointment or the latest re-org. I seem to be a bit less excitable about these things.
It’s not that I’ve given up caring. Right now, I’m more motivated about my career than I have been for a long time. It’s just that, like most people that are around my age, I’ve seen these things before.
I’ve seen lots of initiatives; some make an impact, most disappear without trace. I’ve seen new senior appointments come and go. I’ve been through more re-organisations that I can care to think of. The truth is, five years from now none of it will matter; we’ll have moved on.
When you’re early in your career it’s difficult to have the same perspective, particularly when you perceive what’s happening around you as impacting your opportunities, your progression, your security. So I try to be mindful of that. At the same time I embrace my wisdom as perhaps one of the few benefits of age.
Wisdom provides perspective. Perspective helps to reduce stress. Reducing stress makes me calmer. Calmness translates to confidence. Confidence is an attribute that people are drawn towards.
Wisdom has become my secret weapon and I didn’t have to do a training course in it or get a certification. All I needed to do was live.