Full disclosure, I just had a birthday and turned 53. So, when I say “get over it” I’m talking to myself as well. I’ve read several articles on LinkedIn and other places about being 50+ and the workplace. Whether it’s about getting a job, a promotion, shifting careers, going to work for a startup – doesn’t matter, there has been lots of press and lots of activity around the subject.
Now, I believe there is age discrimination, it happens on a daily basis, there is no denying the fact. But facts are just that, facts. They mean nothing until you decide to take those facts and do something about them. We don’t need more armchair quarterbacks, we need people with experience, willing to lead. So, with that said, here are some things those of us over 50 need to remember:
You were never as good as you remember
Fill in the blank with what you believe of yourself. I could be your looks, your personality, your ability to manage, to complete a task, to manage a team, etc. You were never as good at as you think you were. It’s human nature to believe we were better at something in the past, especially when someone is saying “you can’t do that anymore”. I was never as good looking as I remember, never as brilliant, never as clever as I remember. I have a very high opinion of myself – we all should, because you don’t who will – but the “good old days” were not all good. And the final shot over the bow, if you live in the past, you won’t look to the future. No matter how good you were, you can be better tomorrow.
Most people will dismiss you
But guess what, they dismissed you in your 20s, 30s, 40s and now in your 50s. So what? The majority of people will dismiss you for a thousand reasons. Your age is only one. People dismiss because I’m a man, I’m white, I’m older, I’m a father, I’m a marketing guy, I work(ed) for a huge corporation, I didn’t go to the right school, I don’t live in the right area of town, I don’t wear the right clothes, I wore boots and jeans, ad nausem. Well, those are all facts of my life. I can’t change one of them. If you live your life waiting for everyone else in the world to approve of you, well, it may take a while. It’s not worth worrying about all the people that will dismiss you, it’s much more important to continue looking for those people that won’t. They are out there – there is a perfect job, group, friend, organization that wants YOU. Our job is to find them.
Lose the entitlement
We are not “owed” anything in life. Just because I have 30 years of work experience doesn’t give me a pass to on the next job. Our experience means nothing unless we can translate that into what it means to that next job, that next position, that next employer. Own your experience and be proud of it, but don’t expect it be the thing that catapults you to the head of the line. Entitlement is a disease, don’t allow it to infect your life. Expect the hard road, challenges, and setbacks. If you have learned anything from your 50+ years on this earth, it will be disappointment and heartbreak. Don’t turn those into something dark, push through them and use them as stepping stones to create the next success in your life. You aren’t owed anything, but you can own what you know and your experiences – they have value for someone, just keep searching for them.
“ifs and buts were candy and nuts …”
I’m a big believer in the impossible. I have seen it over and over again in my life. What was science fiction a couple decade ago, is science fact today. The world we live in today, is both beautiful and terrifying – we can communicate instantly with people around the world, but we are afraid to let our kids (or possibly grandkids) play in the front yard. Our goal as the 50+ crowd is to be willing to change, to move the ball down the field, to become better every day. Our value is in our experiences AND how we can use it to enhance our companies and our careers. Tell your stories and share with the world what you know – but also be willing to be the student, to learn, to grown, to climb to new heights.
Quit looking at your past with rose colored glasses and embrace TODAY with the vibrancy of your 20 year old self, the drive of your 30 year old self, the confidence of your 40 year old self and the calm of your 50 year old self. They are all you, integrate them and see what happens.
I say “Get over it” and let’s show the world what we are really made of – let’s be the next surprise in this age of surprises.
I'm probably going to post this to LinkedIn, but you never know, I may just keep it here for those Easter Egg hunters that find it.