It used to be that seniority was the basis for advancement; ostensibly because age is expected to confer experience and wisdom.
Unfortunately, an honest and sober reality check will reveal that there’s no guarantee that age and seniority equate to greater competence, knowledge or wisdom.
Seniority cannot be the basis for advancement
Promotion and advancement based solely or primarily on seniority and/or social class is a form of entitlement that society can less and less afford.
The pace of technological change and the increasing connectedness of all human beings to each other, make the stakes for performance much higher. The demand for heightened performance is putting greater and greater pressure on the old-timers (the unwilling-to-changers), who cannot compete with younger more competent generations of “kids,” to get out of the way.
The pace of change is making age irrelevant … as it should be
It is the nature of the world in the 21st century to not just change, but to radically transform jobs, careers, companies and even industries. Being older might mean you have more experience and competence in your job, company or industry, but if your job is no longer done the way it used to be or has become obsolete—what good is your experience?
It is the young who are more capable, competent and experienced with the tools of modern trade, industry and collaboration. It is the young who are better equipped to deal with the change coming from computer driven technology.
The older generations need help
For many in the baby boomer generation, it is a cruel twist of fate to find themselves once again lost, confused and incompetent to deal with the realities of the modern world; just as they were when they started their careers and had to turn to the senior mentors and managers in their organizations to help them.
The “seniors” are finding themselves unable to understand modern discourses about computer technology, social media, and other forms of “disruptive” innovation that threaten their paychecks.
It is the young who are capable of delivering it
Today many of the trailblazers are the young… the Gary Vaynerchuks, the Tim Ferrisses, the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Sheryl Sandbergs. These men and women have much to offer people twice their age as they are best equipped to deal with the unstoppable and rapid pace of 21st century change.
But age is not the defining factor
The issue is not how old anyone is. The issue is having the willingness and capacity to adapt to change. At the moment this advantage goes to the young, but it can be cultivated at any age.
Going back (continually) to school is key
Learning to anticipate, adapt to and even prosper from change, means having practices that enable you to learn and create new offers; new products and services, new ways to do what you’re already doing more efficiently that save time and reduce cost.
This means finding the teachers and coaches who have mastered the tools and practices of the day, or who are on the cusp of developing the tools and practices of tomorrow.
Chances are those teachers may be younger than you would expect and even—God-forbid—younger than you.
Everyone is both a teacher and a student
The world today is reminding us all that everyone is a teacher and a student, and that we all have something to learn and teach at every stage of life. Youth today are on the vanguard of innovation and entrepreneurial success. Young people are therefore better equipped to help their elders adapt to the consequences of all this innovation.
… and you can learn and teach at any age
But it is not biological age that confers the advantage; it comes from the passion and wonder to learn and create.
And that my friend …
comes from being young at heart.