share your wisdom . . . don’t beat them over the head with it

hammer-of-wisdomNobody likes a know-it-all.

I remember when I was 18 years old and I still lived at home. My mom drove me nuts!! (I love you mom but it’s true)

I couldn’t do anything without her pontificating about a better way to do it. Seriously, I couldn’t pour myself a glass of orange juice correctly.

It was a phase we were both going through and fortunately we both grew out of it. Of course, the growing included a major blow out, some tears and more than one late night date with ice cream.

So you can imagine how appalled I was when I caught myself doing the exact same thing to my son the other day. I remembered how much I hated it and I could tell that he was hating it too. I apologized and immediately changed my tone.

I don’t want to be that old person who apparently knows everything and hasn’t made one single mistake in their life – ever!

It’s true that we have many years of experience behind us and, as we approach and pass the half-century mark, we are anxious to impart the lessons we’ve learned. To our kids, our friends kids, our kids friends, our younger co-workers and, frankly, anyone that will listen. Or anyone that we can box into a corner at any gathering.

We’ve already tackled most of life’s milestones – marriage, career, buying a house (or 4). And we’ve likely managed many of life’s challenges on the way – broken hearts, financial distress and loss of loved ones.

We know how to pick a good used car, we know how to ace an interview and we certainly know how to raise kids (here’s hoping).

But, if we’re really honest with ourselves, just because we’ve experienced so much doesn’t mean we did everything right. I’ve worked with lots of people with 10, 20, 30 years of experience in my field and, although they were very experienced, they were still bad at their jobs.

There is a big difference between “experience” and “expertise”. And nobody is an “expert” at life.

The kids today are growing up in a vastly different world than we did and facing challenges that we don’t even understand.

Did you worry about Global warming?

Did you start your adult life with a mountain of student debt?

Did you live in fear of terror attacks?

Did you worry if you would ever make enough money to buy a house?

Did you wonder if the world was the kind of place you wanted to bring a child into?

I sure didn’t.

I was in my twenties in the 1980’s. Those were the good times. It was a time of a great economic boom. Unemployment was the lowest in 15 years. We all had jobs, we were all making money and we were all enjoying the good life.

It’s no wonder we don’t understand the kids today.

Still, I think we are obligated to share our wisdom because what we’ve learned is still valuable. Valuable in the same way that it was important for my grandparents to share their experiences from living through the Great Depression. I loved the stories my Grandfather used to tell me when I was a kid– I was mesmerised by what these people I loved lived through.

What we need to be conscious of is HOW we share our wisdom. “Share” is the key word here. Share your wisdom, don’t beat them over the head with it.

Don’t assume you know what’s best. What was best for you isn’t necessarily best for someone else. Recognize that. Every situation is different. Your story has it’s merits but don’t be offended if it doesn’t apply in today’s world or today’s situations.

Share without judgement. Sharing is an act of giving. When you pair it with judgement, it becomes selfish.

Wisdom is not owned by old people. Don’t discard young people, there is no age requirement for wisdom. I have met people half my age that have lived twice as much as me. You can learn from everyone.

Share – don’t lecture. It is called a sharing circle because there are no right and wrong answers. Sharing should not be done from a podium so leave the soapbox in your car.

Share to offer a new perspective. Sharing your experiences won’t always provide an answer to someone else’s challenges but it can help to open their mind to tackling them from another direction. Sometimes a different outlook is all that is needed to help.

Share because you genuinely want to help. If you’re interested only in spouting off about yourself, no one will remember a damn thing you said. Trust me, people know the difference between sharing and boasting.

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