Age, Perspective and Wisdom: Friends of Foes?

Ian Clarke

Article author

Reading time: 7 min

Last updated: November 6th, 2022

Age, Perspective and Wisdom: Friends of Foes?

Most reckon ignorance is bliss.

14 years in the inequity engine that is Investment Banking and I can probably count on one hand the number of times what I did for a living came up in organic conversations, and I certainly never lost any friends over it.

But now in the equity fueling D&I industry - and with considerable record for meaningful change - suddenly, seemingly everyone has an opinion on my day job and how to conduct it. It's almost as if most people feel they have vested interests in maintaining the status quo but aren't being authentic about those feelings or curious about validating them. I've lost many a friend on this point (including family members), despite never once instructing them on how to go about their day jobs for which I have no expertise.

Driving Change is a uniquely divisive role upon which the future depends and yet so many seem resolute in impairing.

Change Makers understand knowledge is power

A Human represents themselves. Humanists represent all of Humanity.

As scholars, anchors and unifiers of a common Human Identity, Humanist Psychologists understand, represent and seek equality for all the people of Earth while protecting its future from hatred. That means understanding the characteristics, circumstances, cultures, challenges, needs, wants, hopes and dreams of every type of Human Being imaginable. Can you do that?

Humanists are adept at navigating, simplifying and elevating any conversation that involves Human Beings and issues.  Building expertise here is incredibly hard when you consider the diversity of discussions such a definition covers.

Every day, our people start and advance challenging conversations. Not just about complex human differences, but about effective Management and Leadership, Tech and Industry 4.0, Laws and Regulations, Geopolitical and Sociotechnological change, Psychology and Sociology, Genetics and Astrophysics, Sector Dynamics, Big Data, Risk and Reward, Game Theory… 

The list of subjects we need to be top of our game on is virtually endless, so we couldn’t possibly master them all. Or can we?

What is Wisdom?

Consider that no Human is fundamentally wrong. Human's can only perceive 1% of the Electromagnetic Spectrum - visible light - while the rest of reality alludes us. But though it may seem far fetched, different Human's perceive that 1% differently. Ultimately, all perspectives are correct from the point of view of the perceiver. The issue we face as individuals is that none of us possess a complete picture of reality from which to make informed decisions. Almost all of us anyway.

One of the wisest men ever to have lived, it was neurodiverse Albert Einstein said that “Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom.” Albert isn't saying that age drivers experience here. Rather, he's underscoring the case for Business (practical experience) and Academia (knowledge accumulation) to collaborate closer with each other.

Because he understands that Wisdom is a measure of how complete our perspective truly is. Having wisdom gives you the ability to reliably predict and therefore alter outcomes from any given situation using logic and intuition. It comes from consuming all possible perspectives to arrive at a complete picture of humanity from which to make informed strategic decisions. It’s sources include:

  • Curiosity, the compulsion to understand the 'why' of things we perceive

  • Complex intersectionality

  • The ability to actively listen

  • Breadth and depth of life's encounters

  • Knowledge and Academia, or the possession of unique information

  • The courage to appear ignorant by ask the questions that help us become wiser

  • Having a purpose (which opens up experimentation/trial and error brain processing pathways)

  • …But not age

Age and Wisdom, Friend or Foe?

Doing or thinking the same thing for long periods makes it very hard for Humans to accept so much of our limited time on Earth may have been spent incorrectly.  Only with wisdom can we resist this tendency to constantly become better ourselves whilst helping others drive change on their own improvement journeys.

‘We’re looking for someone with 15 years or more HR experience for our new head of DE&I role.’ 

I didn't qualify for the vast majority of D&I job postings because of this verifiably ageist and irrelevant requirement - a lack of authenticity that sadly runs to the very core of our industry - so I had to start my own firm instead.

Despite being the only Protected Characteristic shared by all humans at some point, young people are among the most oppressed in the world. That’s because age-related Social Construction - particular within the senior Leadership ranks of big businesses and government - has led most people to mistakenly believe that age builds experience. They are therefore gaining illegitimate extrinsic over-confidence - Ego - as they age, without the intrinsic Wisdom or Success to underpin it. Left largely unchecked, this has created an immovable resistance to change and tendency towards oppression amongst (in particular) the current ruling class of Baby Boomers who continue to cling to power without any willingness to change, despite a vivid lack of Wisdom for People and Planet that has pushed Humanity to the brink of destruction through Climate Change and World War III.

To be clear, the target is not the old. It is those who disregard the young. Age has no bearing on Wisdom whatsoever, unless we begin to engineer a reality based on the assumption that it does. Today, the average age of the C-Suite's of the FTSE100 is 58, and there isn't a single Executive Director under the age of 35, despite Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai proving every day that Courage, Authority and Influence have nothing whatsoever to do with age.

If you want to draw value by borrowing any of our wisdom, simply get in touch.

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