Respect Your Elders

Everything here is my own opinion and based on personal experiences. Do you agree or disagree with the points made and what’s your take on wisdom?

As weird as it sounds, I have recently been craving meaningful conversations with older individuals. Regardless of their background, credentials, or level of success and contentment with life, I believe that there is so much to learn from our elders. They have been through man valuable lessons taught by the best teacher in the world: experience. Through conversation, there is so much to learn that we otherwise couldn’t without going through life and experiencing things. This is the main difference between wisdom and knowledge.

Knowledge is composed of facts and comes through learning while wisdom is composed of the application of knowledge through life experiences.

William Shakespeare once said “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool”. What he means by this is the notion that a wise man is “woke”. He understands things on a much deeper level than even the most knowledgable man can comprehend.

Looking at the job market, a company would much rather hire an individual who has a minimum educational background but has an excellent track record and tons of experience over an individual fresh out of school who has multiple PhDs and is the smartest kid in their graduating class. This is because there is no substitute to experience.

I have recently tried adapting a habit of listening to seniors, to ask them questions, and to seriously consider their advice. Regardless of if I believe the advice is good or bad, I first try to actively listen with the intent to be open-minded (being open to changing my own beliefs), then I filter what they say based on my own beliefs and values. I try to notice if he/she is being genuine and trying to help, or if they are speaking out of pain, anger, or jealousy, which often results in poor advice stemming from hatred and regret. I believe there are lessons to be learned even from the disingenuous advice. By trying to understanding their story and learning the root of their hatred you can learn to avoid their mistakes in your own life.

Your elders have lived through the tough times and learned how to overcome it—there’s a reason why they are still alive today. They have had their successes and now hold the blueprint to that. Wouldn’t you want to know their secrets to life?

Their stories and wise advice can summarize decades of life experiences and teach you things you might not have even thought were important.

We all go through this phase, typically around high school when we start learning more advanced subjects and we begin to think we are so smart. It became humbling to me as I realized that the men I look up to most in my life (my father & my grandfather) know so much more than I can imagine. So instead of getting annoyed when they would tell me the right or wrong way to do something I now always listen and appreciate their wisdom—while attaining my individuality and staying true to my values and beliefs.

I personally live with the philosophy that you were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason, so we should listen twice as much as we speak. Learn to be a sponge. Absorb knowledge and wisdom through listening and through experiences.

Respect your elders!

“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.

Marcel Proust