This post is based on a very short “legend” by Paulo Coelho, called Two Minute Transformation. Please read it here. It will take you less than 2 minutes. (I first read it on a take-out bag from Chipotle!)
After reaching the age of 40, we begin to notice people younger than we are doing amazing things: excelling in their professional pursuits, raising families well, being our peers in so many ways. Some of us even start being managed by younger people. And this trend continues, I promise you – more and more, you will notice people younger than you becoming adults and taking their places in the world.
A friend told me when her new orthopedist stepped into the examining room and introduced himself, she thought to herself, “I have INJURIES that are older than you are.”
If you are seeing this happening in your world, and if you are feeling displaced, take note of this line from Coelho’s story: “We all, at some point, grow old[er] and acquire other qualities, and these can always be turned to good advantage.”
I invite you to begin to catalog some of these “other qualities” that you have acquired over time. Seriously. Write them down, in any order they come to you. Don’t dismiss any of them. Just write them down.
I’m sure you have plenty you can point to, but in case you are drawing a blank, here are some questions that might prime the pump.
- Do you have institutional wisdom for the organization where you work, or for organizations in your community? Here’s an article about how one hospital attempted to take the institutional wisdom of some of the more experienced nurses and transfer it to some of the newer ones.
- Do you sometimes have an intuitive sense about other people?
- Do you know the back streets of your city or neighborhood in a way that no newcomer possibly could?
- In what ways has your work become more sophisticated or nuanced as a result of your experience?
I think one of the most unexpected gifts of getting older is that the wisdom, knowledge, and skills you’ve been accumulating reach a critical mass at some point, and you realize that you know some important things that you didn’t used to know. Allow yourself to own this.