Why we have so much to learn from our younger colleagues

Younger colleagues
Younger colleagues
Younger colleagues

What I think I know and how I know it

When I first started work, I thought I knew more than I did. When I had five or six years more experience ‘under my belt’, I was aware I knew a more than some and less than others – mostly older, more experienced colleagues. Over time, I realised I could learn more from my older colleagues and see their experience and know-how as something I could one day develop. I admired how they knew things, knew where to find out what they didn’t know, and knew who to speak to if they didn’t have the answers themselves.

Now after considerably more years’ experience, I have seen many behaviours, attitudes, approaches, leadership styles, and quite a wide spectrum of effectiveness in between extremes. I have been still looking to the more experienced people for guidance, emotionally intelligent responses, feedback and career advice.

A different approach?

Recently, I’m starting to see things differently from this repeated approach. I have read some blog posts and had conversations with some younger colleagues that have excited something inside of me. I was being inspired by them by reading and listening to what they had to say. They had a different attitude and approach that I can only explain as being energised and enthusiastic.

Looking past what their role in their organisation was enabled me to find out more about who they were as a person. It reminded me that for me, I am more than just someone who is a job title, or a person who carries out certain responsibilities. In them, I saw excitement, passion for learning, a need for a purpose, and belief that they can achieve what they wanted and that it isn’t limiting them to a corporate 9-5 world of yesteryear’s expectations. In one conversation, we talked about stripping away barriers, removing fear from trying something different, and looking at what ticks our own internal boxes as well as covers our basic expectations such as providing sufficient income. Not what I was expecting, but it was very exciting to be part of.

Learning from younger colleagues
Learning from younger colleagues

What next?

I have since then been challenged to look at people of all ages for the opportunity to be inspired and to inspire others too. We can sometimes be stuck in a routine, or an expected mindset from the environment we have been operating in. From a base position of thinking that I was quite open, I have realised that we shouldn’t just look to older, more experienced people for guidance and inspirations, but we should look at anyone at all that can spark that inner light of ours. We all have so much to learn from others and understanding their story and backgrounds.

Sometimes the fuel we need may come from an expected source. Sometimes it is a more powerful fuel from a new source that enables us to be re-energised and reinvigorated. The more we open ourselves to new ideas and approaches, the more useful our previous experiences can be with that new added extra spark of youthful energy and optimism. This is why I am now going to look to learn as much as I can from people of all ages, and not just older colleagues. I am after all, a younger colleague to some other people too so I am hopeful that they could learn something from me too!

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