Old People

Building relationships with your peers is important.  But when you’re younger, or just starting out in a field, it’s more important for your immediate future to build relationships with people that are five, ten, and twenty years ahead of you.  Not only do young people not have the experience to guide or mentor you effectively, they usually don’t have the ability or authority to help you in major ways.  Your buddy in the mail room might be able to get you a job in the mail room.  Your mentor in the Vice President’s office can get you just about any job you can handle.

This habit of cultivating relationships with people older, and in different life stages than you, won’t just benefit your career.  As much as we like to think we’re each little snowflakes with perfectly individual lives and goals and problems, we’re not.  Older people have gone through the same things you’re going through now.  They had the same dreams and fears, the same obstacles and triumphs that you do.  All of the little things that most people only learn by going through them?  They learned them by going through them.  Just ask them.  If you’re 25, ask a 35 year old what he wished he had done when he was 25.  (He’ll probably say travel more, and save more money for a house/engagement ring/wedding/kid.)  If you’re 35, ask a 45 year old what he wished he had done when he was 35. (He’ll probably say travel more, and save more money for kids’ college and retirement.)

You’re not going to find a better resource than the people who have been in your shoes.  Not utilizing them is one of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make.

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