Last month I found my first white hair.
In fact, not one but several. I’ve been suspecting them for ages – and finally plucked up the courage to ask my barber. The poor chap sheepishly confirmed.
Cue days of constant checking in the mirror, frantic discussions of what to do with my (bored) wife and checking over every single person’s white-hair-count in every meeting.
It’s only when my son pointed out that I should be more worried about my receding hair line that I saw the funny side.
In ten years as a head hunter, perhaps nothing is more sensitive to consider than age in the workplace. I’ve seen managers reject candidates (never openly of course), people make crazy career decisions and even once highly successful professionals reach the depths of depression purely due to struggling to come to terms with the inescapable fact of ageing.
Although inescapable for any of us, society if always on the constant search for eternal youth and disguising ones age.
But great leaders are different. They don’t see getting older as a negative but as a huge positive. It’s something they see of great value if applied in the right way.
Here are some reasons why great leaders embrace getting older.
It brings wisdom
What is wisdom?
According to a quick Google across several dictionaries, wisdom is the quality of having experience, accumulating knowledge or developing superior judgement.
All of these things require time. Often lots of it. Only through years of practice, constant learning – and yes even making mistakes – can one develop the wisdom that separates you from others.
Great leaders understand that although technology and innovation is changing the way we are doing everything in the world today, the one thing that can never be bought is experience. Those who are more experienced carry valuable skills and abilities developed over decades of learning and applying.
Often they can even see things that others don’t even know exist.
Great leaders understand wisdom isn’t taught but developed.
It builds decisiveness
When we are young we believe we can do it all. Achieve it all. Have it all.
With our whole lives ahead of us, we can tend to run free and wild chasing ever dream and opportunity.
Sometimes going around and around until we finally (hopefully) find what we really want to do.
As we get older, our understanding of ourselves grows. We learn who we are, what we want and what environment we thrive in most. And best of all, as we begin to realise that we won’t be around forever, we begin to value our time more preciously and become more decisive and efficient in everything we do.
Great leaders understand that decisiveness is the one trait that separates super-achievers from the rest. They realise that experience often results in more willingness to make decisions and start taking action.
Great leaders are decisive.
There’s a reason why all the ladies love George Clooney.
It’s not just the fact that he’s undeniably a very good looking man.
But more than that, it’s because he’s incredibly comfortable and confident in who is he is. As a thirty something relative newcomer to Hollywood in the mid-90’s, our George could have easily dyed his hair like Brad, Tom or Jonny. But the fact that he left it as it is almost made him more appealing.
In fact, thinking about it, I hope my greying process speeds up.
Great leaders understand that self-confidence is perhaps the most attractive quality to have. It builds rapport, respect and even admiration. And in today’s fountain-of-youth obsessed world, those who embrace getting older will always stand out.
Great leaders get better with age.
The one thing we can never prevent is getting older.
It therefore makes sense to accept it and use the undeniable power that comes with it.
Hiring managers can gain much from those people who live life with energy and passion but also embrace the power that comes with experience and getting older.
Do you love getting older?
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