And What Shall Posterity Say? | #MyFridayStory No. 231

And What Shall Posterity Say? | #MyFridayStory No. 231

We can choose what posterity will say about our behaviour today.

As inhabitants of this planet—looking back at our track record—we’ve made astonishing progress and spectacular failures. Because of a period of relative global peace and cooperative co-existence many alive today enjoy a life of prosperity. Scarcity of goods is replaced with an over-abundance—more than we could ever hope to consume.

How we use the resources we’re entrusted with determines the quality of our future.

One of the greatest resources any generation has at their disposal is the elders. Over the past 6 decades, the median age of employees in companies has increased to under 40. But in Silicon Valley, the average age of employees is decreasing. The average age in this youth-dominated sector is in the late 20s. According to an article published in The Atlantic, The Kind of Smarts You Don’t Find in Young People by Arthur C. Brooks says, “Companies need to hire more older people into the ranks of their leadership. To foster innovation and success that lasts, America needs more than innovation; it needs wisdom.”

Japan has a fast-ageing population with three-quarters of the workforce now over the age of 60. Germany, the United Kingdom, Singapore and France are not far behind with a similar problem. The United States will also soon be a “super-aged country”—where more than one in five people in a country is 65 or older. In South Africa—and true for most of Africa—there’s an ageing population with negative growth in the under 14 age brackets.

The Elders is a concept that originated from a conversation between Peter Gabriel and Richard Branson. The idea they discussed was simple: Many communities look to their elders for help and guidance in their daily dealings with one another. On his 89th birthday, 18 July 2007, Nelson Mandela announced the formation of The Elders. It’s a small, dedicated group of leaders who work objectively, free from any vested personal interest, to help address global challenges.

Recent research during the intervening decades revealed two groups of skills originate in two main types of intelligence: fluid and crystallised. Fluid is essentially the ability to solve abstract problems. Crystallised represents a person’s knowledge gained over a lifetime of learning. Brooks explains, “In other words, as a young adult, you can solve problems quickly; as you get older, you know which problems are worth solving. Crystallised intelligence can be the difference between an enterprise with no memory that makes lots of rookie errors and one that has deep experience—even if the company is brand new.”

I read somewhere (Thanks to “George Orwell’s Google” algorithm, I found no record) Warren Buffet keeps a wing of offices at the Berkshire Hathaway headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, for the older members of the team. The reason is simple. There’s more wisdom and street-savvy in those hallways than anywhere in the company.

More and more companies are starting to hire older folks to bolster their diversity and thinking. This helps prevent making decisions with long-term negative impacts, on people and the environment. Brookes concludes, “Companies would do well to install master teachers throughout their business.” He adds some final advice for elders. “… realise it is healthy and normal to see some of your capabilities decline with age, and that this presents an opportunity to foster those abilities in others. Older leaders should be enthusiastic about making great teams, developing others’ ideas, sharing knowledge openly and generously, and making prudent judgments based on their own deep experience.”

The elders are responsible for what prosperity will say about what we do today. God bless those that embrace the spirit of Ubuntu, value and respect their elders, and seek a future without violence.

Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄

As always, thanks for reading 🙏

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