Do You Think That People Younger Than You Can Be A Point of Inspiration?

“Youth has no age.”   Pablo Picasso

Over the past few weeks, I’ve interacted with twenty-somethings more than usual.

Last week, I delivered the Presidential Lecture at Utah Valley University, which allowed me to interact with many college students. (If you haven’t listened to our interview with Astrid Tuminez, the president at UVU, she is worth listening to!) I interviewed Tim Harrison, a recent college graduate and founder of EPOG Academy, for an upcoming podcast episode. While at church, I listened to college students talk about their mental health challenges, observing how they approach them with candor, grace, and optimism. These are in addition to the ongoing interactions I have with people on our team. Plus, my children, who I am watching, navigate their way into their adult lives.

I remember when I asked Michelle McKenna who inspired her. She said she was inspired by her colleagues at the NFL who were in their 20s. At the time, I remember thinking, “Really? It’s not someone much older than you –– in their 60s, 70s, or 80s?

But now I get it.

As we move into the sweet spot, and possibly even into mastery, of our adult life, we can increasingly insulate ourselves from ever doing anything new. We can become like Mr. Blah, who we introduced in the opening chapter of Smart Growth. We’ve done everything we meant to do, care about doing, or we aren’t sure what else we might do. We struggle to develop new interests and objectives.

But that’s not how our friends, colleagues, and children in their twenties are approaching life. They are at the launch point. There is the fear and terror and messiness, for sure, of launch points. But there’s also the enthusiasm, excitement, and wonder about what the S Curve of their lives will bring. From my perspective, they are remarkable in many ways, including their willingness to take on big challenges and face them with courage, like tackling the mental health mountain. 

If you don’t automatically have people in your life who are in their twenties, I encourage you to seek them out. There may be a place for you to mentor or sponsor one or more of these aspiring and up-and-coming young people. Not only is this an opportunity for you to give back by helping others to move along their S Curve and looping back to the launch point to do so, but you will be changed. You will feel and be different, alive, innovative, and optimistic for the future.

If you want to do some work on this with your team, reach out to a few of your colleagues in their 20s. How do they think about the world? What do they know that you don’t? What is their perspective? 

If you are in your 20s, zoom out of the specific messiness that is the launch point of your adult life. Reflect more broadly on the wonder of what you know, the experiences you have that people over 30, and certainly over 40 and beyond, haven’t had, and what you can especially bring to the world. 

If you want to listen to podcast guests in their 20s (or younger), check out our episodes featuring Ashley M. Fox, Mark Metry, Buster Scher, and Mikaila Ulmer

In the meantime, this week’s podcast is with Tina Opie, co-author of the book Shared Sisterhood. Don’t let the title fool you. This book is not just about women, just like brotherhood isn’t only about men. 

As you’ll hear, this was a challenging (in a good way) interview for me. My friend Jane Clayson Johnson once told me that as a journalist, you need to stay out of the story. Not one of my strong suits. I’ll be curious to hear how you respond to the conversation.

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,

P.S. If you are a coach or leader looking for an opportunity to help others grow, check out the Disruption Advisors’ Smart Growth Certification program. Learn more and register here.

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