January 19, 2015 by Dymphna 11 Comments

Wisdom of the ancients

Retro key and opened book

What do I know? I’m just an old fart.

Dave was joking, but only sort of. He’s still the sunny side of 60, so I thought, cripes, is that what ‘old’ is these days? I’m almost in sight of that myself!

We had a fantastic Christmas. I spent it with my husband’s family in Denmark. The land of freezing weather, stinky cheese and stale bread. However, rich in friends and family.

It’s good to be back on the Sunshine Coast, meditating on my rock and thawing out.

Oh, and it was great to catch up with the kids too, when they were at home.

I hope you and yours had a fantastic Christmas. I hope you had ample opportunity to connect with your loved ones, and had a rich and restorative break. I hope you’ve swung into the new-year rearing to go, ready to kick a great big hole in 2015! I know I have.

Let’s make it a cracker. Watch this space.

Anyway back to Dave. He’s rolling snags around a sizzling hot-plate, “I just wish I had more to pass on to Dillon, you know?”

Dillon’s his son, and by the sounds of it, isn’t doing too badly. He’s got one kid with another on the way.

“But hang on,” I said, “Didn’t Dillon follow in his father’s footsteps?”

“Yeah, he’s in the trade.” (motor mechanic.) “But I’ve already taught him everything I know. And he’s streaks ahead of me when it comes to the computers and all that.

It’s just changing so quickly.

And it’s not really what I mean. I just wish I had more to teach him about life.

I feel like I’m being left behind. Twitter, email, facepalm. I’m a dinosaur and my days are numbered. I just wish I could help him find his way with it all.

But what do I know. I’m just an old fart.”

I wish I didn’t, but I know where he’s coming from. Something changes that first time you realise that your kid knows something that you don’t. When your ten year old shows you how to programme your VCR.

For a long time, you’re their guide in the world. You know everything that’s worth knowing.

But then before you know it, your kid unlocks an app on your phone you never knew existed, and they’re using it to do things you don’t even understand, and suddenly this great generational gap opens up between you.

Suddenly you realise they belong to a future that you will never fully understand – and will never be fully functional in. From here on, the future will fit them better that it fits you, and you’re destined to be a clumsy and confused spectator on the side-lines of a technical reality you’ll never quite get your head around.

Suddenly, you realise you’re on the way to being, in Dave’s words, ‘an old fart’.

This is a new thing. The pace of change in the world started ramping up after the industrial revolution. Before then, it was possible to know everything that was worth knowing, and it was possible to pass that wisdom on to your kids.

Life in 1230 and 1260 was pretty much exactly the same. Let me tell you how it goes, son. Life in 1930 and 1960 was radically different. 1980 and 2010 even further apart.

And it leaves you with the feeling that you have nothing to offer your children. How can you prepare them for a world you’ll never understand?

And there’s a pain in your heart knowing that ultimately, they’re on their own.

I’m lucky because my kids have also taken an interest in real estate, so that keeps me connected for a little longer. But even the property game is changing. I feel like I’ve got a good grip on things now. But in 10, 20 30 years? It could be a whole new game.

In 10-20 years, 65% of people will be employed in jobs that don’t even exist yet!

The world is changing rapidly, but don’t put this old mare out to pasture yet.

I think there’s a difference between what I call ‘technical intelligence’ – things like knowing how to program a VCR – and ‘life intelligence – knowing how to relate to people, how to work hard, how to know what you want, how to enjoy life etc.

These are things that only come with experience, and are as relevant now as they were a thousand years ago.

And so that’s what I say to Dave. So what if your kid is more tech-savvy than you? The greatest challenges he’ll face in life won’t be about pushing buttons. It will be about knowing how to pick himself up if his business fails or his wife leaves him. It’s about knowing how to cope if his kids get seriously ill.

It will be about standing in his integrity and knowing how to appreciate the richness of life.

It’s easy to look at the world and think that you don’t know anything of value. But the most valuable wisdom is timeless.

And I find that with my courses and seminars. Sure we focus a lot on the technical side of things – and really anyone can get that. But more and more I realise part of my job is about letting the wisdom people already have find its place in the moment.

We know a lot more than we think we do. And that’s life. What we loose in skin-tone, we make up for in valuable life experience.

So that’s one of my aims for the year – to not let technical knowledge crowd out the crucial role that wisdom plays in success.

Hold me to it, hey?