Age and Wisdom

Sometimes they go together, sometimes not.

by Eric Holdeman / May 6, 2019

As I've gotten older, my body has certainly slowed down, and my digital skills are not those of a "digital native" by any measure. Likely I've shared this quote before, "Wisdom comes from experience and experience from making mistakes."  This itself is a topic I'll write about soon for the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).

Which brings me to the topic of age. See this article that got me on the topic, Think Biden and Trump are too old for the White House? Take a look around. I often look at some of the names listed at the end of the article and wonder why they are still "hanging on." Is it the power, the money, the recognition, the "I don't know what I would do with my time?"

Another related item of interest that is anecdotal in nature is my observation that there are a number of Gen X-ers whose only goal seems to retire early. Make a bunch of money, save as much as possible and retire — and I'm talking about people thinking of retiring in their 40s. What's up with that?

Personally I don't think of work as something to be endured. If that is how it feels, then it is only work. There has to be some reward, beyond the dollars that come from one's work. The old "making a difference" comes to mind and also what brings a person joy. In one case I know, the retirement will be filled with playing a drum pad and computer games. It just doesn't seem like a fulfilling life to me. I also know one "boomer generation" person whose contribution back was playing golf. Golf in itself is not bad — I'm hoping to play more this summer than I have in the past — but golf in itself is not a fulfilling mission, in my mind. 

If you want to die relatively young, retire and then sit and watch TV. You are sure to rust out quickly and your body will be recycled. 

Which gets us back to emergency management and the population of generations. Boomers are about all gone from leadership positions in the geographical area where I work. Generation X is now in charge, with millennials filling the program positions and lower-level management positions.  

I just had an idea for a conference topic. Put together a panel of "older," perhaps retired, emergency managers who were successful, and then have an open discussion with the audience just posing questions to the panel to see what their advice might be to the thorny questions of the day. This would require the retired folks to have some knowledge of the issues facing the current generation of leaders, like "How much should I chase a digital/technical solution?"