Older folks bring perspective, patience, and gratitude to your firm, so think twice before you run them off from your company.
We are visiting my mom in Kirkwood, Missouri, this weekend as I write this. My mother, Evelyn Zweig, is 101 years old. And right now she is taking a nap. She will be 102 in September. And, thanks to my older sister who lives nearby, my mom is still able to live in her own house – the one my siblings and I all grew up in – in Kirkwood. She can enjoy her own kitchen and eat what she wants when she wants. She can sit in her sunroom with the windows cranked open and enjoy a breeze if she feels like it. And she can tend to her yard and gardens when the seasons call for that.
My mom was a super hard worker her entire life and she took care of all of us – including my dad (and he needed a lot of taking care of, not because of any particular physical disabilities but because of his personality!). He was a handful by any standard, and liked to have things his way. He passed away nearly six years ago.
It’s commonly accepted that getting old stinks, but as the expression goes, it beats the alternative. Yes, your energy does slowly wane. And yes, provided your mental faculties are still intact (and my mother’s are), it’s difficult to go though having your vision and hearing deteriorate. But that said, some things get better with age.
One of those things is your perspective. Little things don’t upset you like they may once have. You can learn how to better distinguish between what’s really important and what isn’t. And you also know that no matter what bad things are happening that they, too, will eventually pass. That perspective helps make you calmer.
Another positive aspect of aging is you tend to become more patient. Patience was never one of my strengths as a young person but I’m much more patient today. Enjoy the journey (process), because the destination (end result) is rarely as good as you think it will be. Being patient allows you to be less frustrated, and less agitated.
Yet another positive aspect of aging is you become less egocentric. It sure helps you win friends and followers if you don’t always have to be the star of the show. I have really become conscious of how much my ego hampered me when I was younger. At some point, we have nothing to prove. That is liberating, and makes you more likable.
Gratitude is the last thing I want to mention, and a major benefit of aging. You can learn to appreciate what you have instead of always wanting something more or something different. That gratitude helps you maintain a positive attitude even when there are problems all around and your body is failing. Gratitude makes you happier and easier to be around.
So when you put it all together, wouldn’t it be nice to have more people working in your business who are calm and have a broad perspective, who are patient, who aren’t so egocentric, and who are happy and glad for what they have? Think twice before you run off all the older people from your company. Maybe those mandatory sell-back clauses in your shareholder agreements that kick in at certain ages aren’t in your best interest. Having some more grey-haired folks could be helpful to your entire team.
Think about it!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.