Respect Your Elders

Wisdom comes with experience. To be wise and young is an oxymoron. I believe that there is a lot to be learned in the presence of seniors.

I crave meaningful conversations with seniors. Regardless of their background, credentials, or level of success, I believe that there is a lot to learn from senior people because they have been educated by the most effective teacher in the world: experience. When you have a meaningful conversation with seniors, listen closely to the rich wisdom in the words spoken.

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 that a wise person understands things on a much deeper level than even the most knowledgeable man can comprehend.

In business, wisdom is also important. Companies would much rather hire someone lacking formal education but have tons of experience and an excellent track record over a fresh graduate with multiple degrees. This is because there is no substitute for experience.

I have recently adopted a habit of listening to seniors. Not just hearing but listening. I ask questions and try to understand why they say what they do. Regardless of if I believe their advice is good or bad, I first actively listen with an open mind, then I use critical thinking to draw my own conclusion. I try to notice when they’re being genuine or if they are speaking out of anger or jealousy, which often results in poor advice. But I believe there are lessons to be learned even from the disingenuous advice. By trying to understand their story and the root of their hatred you can learn from their mistakes.

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

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

It’s common to overestimate our wisdom and think we already know a lot. Surrender your ego for the sake of growth to open many doors of enlightenment. I live with the philosophy that we were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason; we should listen twice as much as we speak.

Become a sponge. Absorb knowledge and wisdom through listening and through experiences. And most importantly, respect your elders!