In a few weeks, I will be 56 years (young). I have been working for more than 33 years (old). By all measures, you might say I’m experienced. But what does this mean in the age of constant change, in which I must change my career (the way I do my job) every five years? Either I change the way I do my job, or my job changes, or it might disappear altogether!
Experience is important but it is not enough.
In fact, when you get to my age or older and all you can talk about is your experience, it’s nothing more than vanity!
What’s one definition of experience? “The process of getting knowledge or skill from doing, seeing or feeling things.”
“I don’t read any books,” the veteran began proudly. “Really, I could write most of those books myself because I know it all. I have been doing this job for 30 years.”
__This guy needs to retire quickly because he will destroy the organization!
You can be old and young at the same time… You cannot afford to think old!
# Experience is important, but it is not enough.
You must complement it with a constant desire and hunger to learn new things and change your career, again and again and again.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is for a team to win back to back World Cup soccer titles?
# When you have a winning team, you don’t want to make changes, but that’s when change must be uppermost in your mind.
Much of our older executive corps in Africa really battle with change, and wear their experience as a right of entitlement. This needs to change. Management and leadership roles are not immune to change.
# Experience is important but it is not enough.
Probably the best engineer I ever worked with was a South African guy called Les Cullen. He was already in his 60s when I first hired him, and he worked for me well into his 70s. In every way, Les was like a 26-year old!
His curiosity was insatiable. It always seemed that every day he was trying out a new idea or reading about a new idea.
So this is not an age thing. It’s about a mindset. I have known 30-year old who, only 10 years out of college, cannot absorb a new idea! I have known 80-year olds who embrace new ideas and change their careers with extraordinary energy and gusto.
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus (70+) wrote something interesting. (He’s a social entrepreneur that pioneered the ideas of microcredit and microfinance). He said his greatest challenge has been to change the mindset of people.
“Mindsets play strange tricks on us,” he wrote. “We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see…”
Now don’t let the idea of change panic you. Get your mindset around the idea that in this rapidly changing world, we’ll ALL need to be prepared to change our career, again and again and again.
I saw a quote recently that made me smile: “A year from now you will wish you had started today!”
To be continued. . .
Author: Strive Masiyiwa