Respecting your elders is a surprisingly controversial topic. Make a statement about the importance of respecting your elders on social media and see how many comments you receive about whether or not they “deserve” respect.
You may be surprised by how passionate (or dispassionate) people are about respecting elders. I have taken notice of this, but I’ve also noticed something else. Where the most controversy exists, respect for elders has been presented as an obligation.
Rather than thinking of respect for elders as an obligation, I would like to highlight three reasons that respecting your elders can help you create huge wins in your life, profession, and relationships.
Respect isn’t about whether someone agrees with you or not; it’s simply regard or consideration for their life, experience, and perspective. Here are the three ways you can create huge wins by embracing that consideration.
#1: You should respect the old folks because they give you a sure knowledge that things can be endured.
Life can be difficult. That’s an understatement! Life can be downright miserable and even unbearable. There are times in everyone’s life when everything seems dark. Despair has set in, and it seems there is no way forward.
When you find yourself in this position, consumed by hopelessness, turn to some old folks. In order to make it to their age, it’s guaranteed that they went through some dark and difficult times themselves.
In running my own companies, some years are amazing and others are scary. As I have faced those scary years, I have been reminded of my own grandfather who worked a small family farm his entire life. As I have been consumed by anxiety and stress, I have asked, “How many years did he wonder how he would pay for next year’s crops?” or “How many days did he spend worried about putting food on the table for his family?”
I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I know that he did. In his 77 years he experienced more days of worry and stress than I’ve even had the chance to. And, the beautiful thing is that he made it through every single one of them.
Next time you find yourself consumed with worry about life, turn to the old folks and reassure yourself that those things can be endured. Because, the old folks give us a sure knowledge that they can. In those moments of despair, that knowledge will be a huge win.
#2: You should respect the old folks, because they teach you that hard work involves some things you don’t like.
Every successful achievement involves doing things you don’t like. Yet, I’ve been surprised in my executive coaching career, by how many leaders are failing because they refuse to do something they don’t like.
An all-too-frequent perspective is that success means never doing anything you don’t like. I’m not sure the source of this belief, but I’ve yet to meet a truly successful individual that didn’t embrace some unpleasant activities.
Whether rightly so or not, the old folks embraced doing things they didn’t like in order to accomplish things more meaningful to them. This requires a certain amount of humility, which empowers individuals to take on unpleasant tasks in order to accomplish something greater.
One owner I worked with refused to give up his new BMW car, even when his business was losing money and he was struggling to make payroll. He was willing to fail miserably and hurt others financially in order to avoid the unpleasant.
In contrast to this, I have an old newspaper article with a picture of my uncle waiting in a long line outside a food bank. He was willing to experience the unpleasant in order to achieve something more meaningful. His pride was more in the welfare of his family than it was in appearing successful while sinking.
Whenever you find yourself avoiding unpleasant tasks, go find some old folks and listen to the sacrifices they made in order to accomplish meaningful goals. Hearing this will quickly remind you of your own goals and motivate you to complete those unpleasant tasks for the sake of achievement. Finding the willpower to complete those lingering unpleasant tasks is a huge win.
#3: You should respect the old folks, because they offer a 100,000 foot perspective.
It’s easy, oh so easy, to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks. Small fires and rifts can turn into massive problems that drain you of energy. It’s the old adage of “turning an anthill into mountain”.
However, by having 60, 70, or 80+ years of perspective, the old folks rarely see small problems as mountains.
When I was younger I used to be confused by my grandmothers response to my frustrations. She would either respond with a light-hearted dismissal or some pithy insight. It wasn’t until I was older that I began to understand why.
She never saw my experience the same as I did. At 14, I had very limited perspective to put my experiences into, so everything seemed to be an immediate, urgent, and colossal problem or need. With thousands of her own, her children’s, her friend’s, and many other’s experiences to contrast mine against, she could quickly recognize how mine compared.
Because of this, she could light-heartedly dismiss those that were relatively inconsequential and direct the appropriate attention to those that weren’t. She offered a 100,000 foot perspective that fewer years of life simply couldn’t.
Getting a 100,000 foot perspective of an experience can be found by turning to the old folks. And, seeing how your experience fits into a life of experiences is a huge win.
Each of these wins can be obtained via a healthy dose of respect for your elders. You don’t have to see things the same way as they do, in fact, that’s where much of the value comes from a lifetime of perspective and experience that can only be obtained through, well, a lifetime.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
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