The Wisdom of Experience

My father is 76. It really bothers him that he is heading into the last leg of this journey and cannot fully share the years and years of knowledge that he has with us, his kids, and with the rest of the world. He’d like to find a way to dump his brain into his kids. At 76 he can look at most any problem and see a solution — more often than not, he’ll have experienced a similar situation in the past and learned from having chosen a correct or incorrect path. What is frustrating is that he wants to pass that knowledge along to us while we are in the process of learning through our own experiencing.

I look at my own young child and realize there are many, many areas where she will not embrace my wisdom through experience because she will be learning through her own mistakes and trials. But, if I’m anything like my dad, it too, will irk me no end.

In 2003-04, there was a huge strike where first Von’s (and ultimately Ralph’s and Albertson’s) 70,000 employees stayed off the job for endless months trying to make a deal surrounding wages and medical insurance. As the strike went on, brinkmanship and national financial leverage, against a shaky union strategy turned into the stalemate that wouldn’t end. I remember that early on in the strike, my father tried to contact anyone at Ralph’s management or on the mediation team with his solution (as a business owner, he became well known for his skilled negotation abilities, particularly with unions.) He felt that he could bring the two sides together quickly with a two-tiered program and he laid it out for me at the time. His plan was similar to the plan that was eventually accepted, but with a long term implementation program to keep employee morale up and production high.

In the news today, coverage followed the possible next strike by the same union group. Now, several years later, the union is upset about the tiered system. I called dad on the road this morning to tell him of this development. “But of course they’ll strike again!” he blurted. “They didn’t put the implementation strategy into place.” If he’d been there at the time, who knows what his experience could have brought to this table.

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Also in the news is the shocking revelation that Countrywide may have to go bankrupt due to the lack of ready cash for short-term needs. Of course, talking to dad about this latest development, he had a quick fix and a long term fix ready to discuss (I’m not a finance expert, but honestly, it sounded pretty good to me!)

This was a few minutes of a snapshot of a 76 year old retired businessman/consultant. It makes one take another look at the many 50 plus, 60 plus, 70 plus and 80 plussers who are the elders of our society. What is different in this society is that wisdom of experience is not really sought after.

Then, of course, I make the leap to the employment landscape and how it affects Gen Plussers (because doesn’t it always go back to what you need?)

Right now, today, tonight, there are 60,000 Countrywide employees trying to figure out how to abandon ship before it sinks and get a new job. Which means that there will still be oodles and oodles of open positions that Countrywide will need to have filled throughout any bankruptcy protection, government bail-out, or restructure. So if I were 50 plus and looking for a job….I’d be setting my sights on Countrywide and applying to them like crazy…as of today.

Now that might just be a bit of wisdom of experience right there.

3 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Experience

  1. Now, that is actually a great comment. Gave me a smirk, but also gave me pause. I’m not suggesting going into death spiral situations, but there are a lot of jobseekers that I come into contact with who literally cannot get any employment after at least of year of dedicated search. Just seems to me that if you really can’t find work, find the places that people are leaving in droves, because then you’ll be needed more than discriminated against.

    Thanks for a short, but powerful comment. (And don’t think I didn’t take a look at the Enron site for a jobs section…I couldn’t find one, btw.)

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