There is a huge problem in America’s workforce today.
The destructive belief that turning 40 years-old is a career death sentence.
Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, I have enjoyed my career much more after turning 40, and this coming from a person who has held a job since age 13.
You will see in this post exactly why I love being a 40+ employee. Additionally, you will see why people “my age” and older are great to have on any team.
10. I am much more patient
I was a certifiable pain in the neck for many years. From ages 22 to 39, if I did not get my way on a business decision, I took it as a sign, “The boss is holding me back! I am a genius! I must fight to show them!” Yes, it was that bad. I accused many bosses of being toxic. But I was the problem.
Ultimately, even though I drove bosses crazy, there was an appreciation for me. Ironically, they loved having me on the team. My ideas drove profit, team morale, and kept life interesting as businesses grew more customer relations-centric.
I thought I was walking in the footsteps of icons who challenged the status quo. I took a stand for what I believed in.
However, I was almost impossible to deal with on days when people disagreed with me.
Now older, I see the error of always behaving this way. Out of regret and sympathy for former bosses, I am much more patient. It leads to better decision-making and peaceful days at work.
9. I love having my priorities in order
It is tough to maintain a career and family in 2018 USA. The pursuit of financial stability combined with the demand to be there for family makes life challenging.
You will often read the words of famous business icons explain that “they should spend more time with family”. You know that is easier said than done.
But now at age 44, I am confident that I have my desires and passions in check. In this specific order:
- Love of my wife and family
- Growing a business that gives back to people as part of its service
- Stable health
- Stable finances
Money comes last for a good reason. I have seen it destroy the best people and give power to the worst people.
8. I love that I appreciate learning new things more than ever before
If you are reading this and hating school because you recently graduated and need a job, here is a funny truth you will experience:
The older you get, the more you appreciate learning
At a younger age, most people I knew hated learning something new. It was viewed as a chore that got in the way of having fun.
After age 40, as life settled down, I began to miss the people I spent so much time with while in my 20’s and 30’s. They had settled into their families and had their jobs. I felt like I had stopped learning.
When I started taking business courses at age 42, something in me woke up and said, “You did not respect your education the first time around.”
I realized this because I loved learning more than ever. I was now putting it to good use, too, unlike before when I believed I knew everything, yet no one was recognizing my genius.
7. I love being a long-game thinker
One of the benefits of living longer is that you get to learn the long-game of life. Businesses often focus on immediate ROI from short-term actions. I used to think if something fails immediately, it will never work.
Now older, I understand many things about the long-game of business. Business travels, meeting people, failures, and successes while working in businesses from major corporations to startups taught me the value of long-term thinking.
Long-game thinking is a tough sell on businesses. People in the US love instant-gratification. They love to criticize ideas and condemn people for failing.
Yet, businesses outside the US taught me how moral and ethical foundation, solid commitment to integrity and honesty, and hard work are key ingredients to the longevity of a business.
6. I love knowing I don’t have to be a jerk to succeed
My way of thinking used to involve the shallow thought of, “Be a jerk because only jerks succeed”. Bad idea.
Now older, I look at history and see why certain ideas come and go. I see how and why people are perceived as “jerks” for making tough business decisions.
At the same time, I can tell the difference between “a person who makes tough decisions” and “a real jerk”.
One cares about business and staff growth. The other cares about being in control.
5. I love having a developed emotional intelligence
The United States is a diverse and challenging place to live. If you pay attention to all forms of media, you start to see how everyone wants their specific needs and wants to be met, and their feelings to be considered.
Thankfully, I had the opportunity to travel to 49 of the 50 US states, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Egypt, and Australia, all for work purposes. In these travels, I realized it is physically impossible to make everyone happy. The only answer is “balance”.
I also discovered the meaning behind many quotes that have been around for centuries:
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” - Socrates
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of people and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” - Mark Twain
A solid understanding of such things allows a person to be kind, empathetic, and passionate without harming anyone in the pursuit of happiness.
4. I love never needing to have the last word
I am not sure when and how this happened. But at some point, I became “woke” and realized that people change at their own pace, usually only after they have no choice to do otherwise.
I used to throw down arguments like a lawyer on 12 cups of coffee. If I wanted to win an argument, you could not shut me up.
Time, experience, and age showed me why this is not always the best thing for myself, my teams, or the company. I am 100 times easier to work with than I was 10 years ago. And I love that peace of mind.
3. I love understanding why I wronged people in the past
Unfortunately, I burned a few bridges in my career unnecessarily. Knowing why people make choices and a greater understanding of life itself has led me to have my own version of an “apology tour”.
All I really do is explain to those who felt wrong by me, “I get it now.”
2. I love having strong interpersonal and critical thinking skills
Generation X and older Millennials have a unique skill that is in danger of disappearing.
We remember life before the Internet. We remember asking for directions without Google Maps.
Being able to decipher what our uncle and grandfather meant by, “Turn left at the fork in the road once you reach the old church by the school”, required interpersonal and amazing critical thinking skills.
I see the value in Google. I do wonder what will become of people when they completely forget how to talk to people.
How will they know what to Google if they have no idea how to talk to people?
I love knowing that my interpersonal and critical thinking skills help me beyond what Google offers.
1. I love having a defined “meaning of success”
I used to have a shallow “meaning of success”. I believed it was defined by fame and fortune achieved.
After one of my toughest career failures several years ago, I came to realize “success” is defined by “what we give to this world”.
Giving to this world has led to me having successful relationships with my wife, family, and businesses I work with.
I also realized the meaning of success is defined by how we recover from failure. I chose to move forward in spite of all negative feelings and doubt.
Such a thing makes a person feel successful if you have the guts to let go of grief, but never forget why you failed in the first place.
If you are just starting out in your career and thinking, “I am a failure if I do not become a millionaire by age 30”, or “Live recklessly now because life is too short”, please remember life is longer than you think.
The older you get, the more you will appreciate life, love, learning, family, and a career.