“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” “You are out of touch with today.”
When facing the speed of change in our homes, the marketplace, and our community, we all have probably heard, said or thought these phrases on more than one occasion. Typically, as individuals get set in their ways, either in a job or in their home life, the phrase, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is said to address a personal short-coming or to rationalize another person’s response to something new and different. The normal dialogue back and forth between generations typically results in someone in a younger generation responding to an older person, hopefully as respectfully as possible, with “you are out of touch with today.”
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, ensuring we remain relevant to those around us will help us have a positive impact on others for many years to come. There are two principles that can help all of us remain relevant to those around us as we continue on our journey: (1) We need to remain teachable throughout life and (2) We need to remain open to learn from anyone by minimizing the barrier of prejudgment.
There is no denying the fact that our world continues to grow in complexity. The issues we face in many areas of our lives will not be effectively addressed with the techniques that worked a few decades or even a few years ago. We need to find more effective ways to deal with our reality.
The pace of change in most of our markets is lightning fast and business leaders need to continue to seek improved solutions to add greater value in order to remain relevant. In our homes, whether it is managing our finances, maintaining a strong marriage, or being a more effective parent, our environment continues to grow in complexity and many times we are trying to navigate in uncharted waters. The principles of love, understanding, compassion, etc. are timeless and will always remain relevant. However, how we deliver on those principles needs to adjust with the changing environment.
As we make the choice to remain teachable, we become well positioned to remain relevant to those around us. Blaming someone else, or worse yet, in our own mind saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” will work to weaken our impact.
In addition to remaining teachable to stay relevant, we need to remain open to understand and learn from anyone. Generationally speaking, the young should remain open to learn from the wisdom of the old and the old should remain open to learn from the new perspective and energy of the young. In addition, diversity of experience, background, gender, race, etc. provide potentially valuable perspectives to understand and learn from.
Both academic research and our own practical experience, would demonstrate that many times we prejudge the potential teacher with our own thoughts of: “What can we learn from him? He has never worked in our industry.” “She does not have a degree in this particular field, what could she possibly teach us?” “He is an old man, there is no way he can relate to what I am dealing with.” “She is only a teenager, what could she share that would change what we already know?”
Diversity provides a great foundation for learning. Many times we prejudge diversity of thought or expression and quickly close the door to learning from others. Making the choice to remain open and willing to learn from others who may appear ‘different’ than us will help us remain relevant to those around us.
Prejudging people because they are ‘different’ or allowing ourselves to fall into ‘group-think’ that quiets their voice, will work to weaken our character and hinder us from reaching our full potential.
As we work to remain teachable and remain open to learn from others, not just those who look and act like us, are from our generation, or share a similar set of life experiences, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® for us to remain relevant to those around us and continue to have a positive impact in our life’s journey.