There’s just so many ways to say “I’m getting old” that I couldn’t come up with one that englobed everything that’s on my mind right now so I decided to simplify it: I have spent, like almost everyone I know, most of my adult life working so why not make this about getting more experienced at work? Nice save right? 😉
As birthdays go by and we celebrate years past and years to come, some things pile up inside of you. Good things, bad things, great things and little things. Big ones take more space obviously but sometimes they wash away and what remains is what made them big: your experience.
How do you tell that a birthday is more of a landmark in your career than just another moment when you blow out candles of a cake you didn’t pick and with people you might not necessarily call your friends?.
Just ask yourself any or all of the following questions and you might find out.
Do you own the job, or does the job own you? A clear sign of maturity is that you are able and aware of what the job takes, whatever the job is and you set the pace. This has nothing to do with whatever goals you are set on but rather, how well you handle yourself.
Do you collide with your boss or peers? When younger, we’re more prone to letting our difference of opinion rule us. Ideals are more important than reason. Romanticism over pragmatism, passion over reason, etc. But as we grow old and more experienced, we listen more and in consequence tend to negotiate rather than fight.
Do people ask for your advice? Experience is closely related to age, which is only logical though sometimes we are surprised by younger people who is wiser than other, older ones. It is far more usual though that as you gain wisdom, it starts showing, causing people to believe your advice will be more sound and true.
Do you anticipate changes? When younger, we just live through them. Most of the time they come as surprises, nice or awful and we are supposed to deal with them. With experience comes the capacity to analyze and reach conclusions: you see the matrix and see things before it happens. Call it intuition if you prefer the more traditional approach.
How early do you leave the office? “Too early” or “too late” are not the right answer though that’s what happens when you’re younger. As you grow into your job, whatever it is, you start to balance your time better and you get to “I leave when it’s time to”, which usually means you’re done and ready to go home.
Do you work harder than you used to? A trick question. If the answer is yes, that’s not a bad thing. If it’s no, that’s not a bad thing either, so which one is right? Both are, as long as they mean just one thing: you have mastered your own operational rhythm to a point that you don’t need others telling you to work harder or stop doing it. You are aware of how you can get your results and decide on what’s needed.
Do you feel like sharing? As we age, things change within us. I’ve heard many times that people don’t change, or maybe I heard everyone changes. I wouldn’t know about that, but I do know something: as we grow older our instinct mandates that we pass on our knowledge. Sometimes we listen to it, and sometimes we don’t, but it’s there. Why else do you think they come for your advice?
Are you still a storm rider? Keyword: still. When younger and inexperienced we tend to see every challenge as a storm, and every storm as a challenge. And of course, we try to dominate them. We fight to become Riders, the ones who dominate whatever our jobs throw at us and fight, and fight and fight, but as storms come and go you realize, you understand: the true challenge is to become the rock that allows the water to pass and be molded. It was never about riding it.
Do you still make lists? Same keyword and for a similar reason. I still do make lists but far less than 10 years ago. This one is about one single truth: what you learn prepares you for what’s ahead. Some of the skills you get are more useful than other ones. Knowing your job, your business, that’s a skill too. If you’re still making up lists around what you need to do every day…there’s probably a lesson you skipped.
Are you nodding right now? If you are, or if you were nodding while you read…what better proof do you need? You my friend, are getting wiser.
Ps: Today is, other than Star Wars day, my birthday 🙂
Also published on Medium.