I celebrate a birthday in a few weeks, and I’m reminded once again that the calendar doesn’t turn back.
In a culture that celebrates youth, it’s easy to believe the only key to impact is to be young.
But is it?
While being 18 might position you to invent the next Facebook, being an older leader might position you for the best moments of your life and leadership.
But, in the same way we can misspend our youth, it’s just as easy to blow your decades past age 40 as it is to leverage them effectively.
Here’s how and why.
So What Does Age Predict?
Your best years as a leader should be somewhere between 45 and 75. Maybe even longer. Dallas Willard, who died in 2013 at age 75, contributed as much in his last two decades as in his first five decades. When Dr. Willard passed away, I was saddened because he was a voice I wanted to hear from for years to come. It’s not that God isn’t sovereign, it’s just that there are voices we miss.
Nobody worries that Tim Keller or John Piper are over 60 or that Andy Stanley is over 50. In fact, their stage of life might be the very reason they add so much value to so many people. The years offer wisdom that youth simply can’t have. And consider this: all three of these leaders are having a huge impact on people under 35.
As these leaders (and many others) show us, growing older does not necessarily mean growing irrelevant.
In fact, you have the unique opportunity to reflect on years of learning and living and contribute in a way you simply couldn’t when you were in your 20s or 30s.
Strangely, most leaders are a little insecure about growing older, as though being under 40 is the key to effectiveness as a leader.
Why is that?
It’s a great question.
Maybe a look at 5 mistakes older leaders make and 5 best practices can shed some light on that.
5 Mistakes Way Too Many Older Leaders Make
So let’s start with the mistakes older leaders who are still leading organizations can too easily make, and then switch to the opportunities before all of us as we add years to our experience.
Here are 5 mistakes way too many older leaders make: