My entire life I’ve heard … “you’re too young”, “you lack the title”. As I’ve approached 40, married and had a kid, I hear it less. Still, though I do sometimes note I am the youngest in the room.
I think people put too much stock in age and title and not enough in the things that really matter.
I asked a few last night on Facebook.
Apparently it means little to my friends either.
- ‘It’s a simple as a number. Nothing more”
- “Nothing!! I am still ice dancing at almost 56!” (You go girl!)
- “Age is a state of mind.”
- “Are we talking cheese, wine, or single malt?” (Ah now that’s someone who gets it!)
- “Age should not matter but it does. It’s a way of weeding us over 50s out of the interview stack.”
- “A title is a label organizations give out. Some live up to it and others do not.”
So why then do people still put stock in it?
With many of my superiors pre-retiring in their 50s, I’m now seeing that age and title take on a different meaning. ‘Old, too senior, too experienced, too expensive’ all seem to come to the surface.
I suppose I should take this as my 40s are the “best years” to be not-young or old?
When do age and title never matter?
I think the problem lies in the fact that people don’t take the time to go beneath the surface with others. We see something on a piece of paper and take it at face value. We are all people with an age (and some form of title), but what truly matters is what’s in each of us: our dreams, our successes, our failures, and our experiences.
People don’t take the time, though, to know those things.
My approach to every person I meet is that I can learn from them. It doesn’t mean what I learn is the right way. It means I’m learning a way. How I choose to process the information is up to me. I learn from 70+ year olds, people my age and kids. My kid is 3 and she says the most profound things. Kids are the most fascinating to observe. In the workplace, I am fortunate to work with people from four generations. I listen, value their inputs and seek to understand each person’s perspective.
A friend of mine, Loren posted this morning something so important. She said … “Within a highly matrixed organization, ideas are sometimes not given the credence they deserve because the idea generator did not have the title. That’s a shame. I’ve also seen the free form generation of creative problem solving just stop when the one with the title enters the session…and people then just look to the one with the title for direction and the solution. How many great solutions to problems have we missed, because it didn’t come from the title holder?”
My Maw Maw would have been in her 90s if she were still with us. She was a teacher and one mean Cajun cook. She made everything, and I mean everything from scratch. She spent time laboring in the kitchen for hours to make the right gumbo, pastry, or meal.
Everything she made was timeless, priceless and magnificent! She didn’t own a microwave for years and had to be convinced to put one in her kitchen.
She used to say to me “The secret is in the sauce. When you blend everything together, it’s the mixture of the ingredients, spices, and flavors that makes the complete dish.”
I view people the same way. There are may layers (and spices, too) that make up one unique individual – age, title, experience, culture, background, values system…the list goes on. It’s up to us to tap into those things to truly allow us to see people for what they bring to the table.
Bill Nye said it well. “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”