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Yesterday, I was talking with a friend about how we don't value life experience in our culture. Basically, we don't respect our elders. She continued to tell me how she is interested in writing a book on raising children because she had such a wonderful relationship with her parents. She thought that her home life was the norm, but she has since discovered that she had a rare and very good up bringing.
She used an example from her teen years to illustrate. When she was 15, she remembers asking her mother: What would you do in this situation Mom? I have never been 15 before I know that you are past 15. Tell me what you think based on what you know? I would say my friend was wise beyond her years. She understands sage-ing.
This is a great example of the value of life experience. When we have experiences that others do not have, we have the advantage of learning and it would be nice if we had more opportunities to share what we have learned.
But it seems as if people don't ask and our families and organizations are providing fewer opportunities to share. I have advocated building mentoring into your system so that it happens either on a formal or informal basis. In fact, organizations are giving incentives for people with experience and wisdom to leave early! Does this make sense? What are the organizations losing? The people leaving are losing a significant part of their identity.
What if we created more spaces and places for people to share their wisdom?
What if people who retired were invited back to share their perspectives on things.
What if we took time to listen to family stories?