When I was young, I was told that I should respect my elders. I did not agree with that, I believe everyone should be treated with respect irrespective of their age. Some people because of their values and the way they behave deserve an extra level of respect.
Older people have more experience and through that some gain wisdom; however, for others those experiences leave them with a jaundiced view that results in behaviours that do not garner respect. And for others years of experience is, at best, one year’s experience repeated many times.
In my early career I sought out older people for their advice and to act as mentors, it wasn’t their age that made them useful, it was how experiences had shaped their lives and that they were willing to pass on that experience in a non-dogmatic way. That I respected.
Now I look to young people for advice and mentoring, they are leaving school and university with up-to-date knowledge and often know things I do not. They also understand modern society and the needs and expectations of the younger generations which are often different from how things were when my patterns of thinking were formed.
If I am to manage people well, I need to understand what is important to them and if I want to sell products and services, I need to understand what people need and want. Given my demographic not many of my potential customers are like me, about 17% of the UK population is over 65. If anyone deserves respect due to their age it is the young. They have to cope with a lot more change and complexity when they are trying to find their place in the world than my generation ever did. And, overall, they are doing a great job.
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