Age Discrimination in the Marketplace

I am the luckiest man in the marketplace. The older I get, the more I am  perceived as being better at my niche in the marketplace, better than somebody younger than I.

I have noted much discussion and many articles regarding age discrimination in the workplace.  While paraphrasing, it seems the mantra of the older applicant or job holder is: “I have forgotten more than the younger worker (applicant) knows, and yet I am going to be fired or replaced by a younger applicant.”

I believe this statement to be true. So what is it that spurs the ubiquitous conversations on age discrimination? And why does age discrimination exist? I believe that it does exist, but cannot prove it. I do not attempt to prove it. An attempt is made to offer remedial possibilities for age discrimination.

Certainly LinkedIn is filled with qualified and degreed professionals with the bel esprit, which I do not and will never possess. These people of great wit or intellect have addressed and continue to address this ubiquitous problem of age discrimination. I certainly do not wish to challenge their recommendations and observations of what to do and how to manage this phenomenon.  This post does not attempt to do so.

However this post does attempt to lend to this conversation of age discrimination something of note. And I do feel qualified to make this observation in a post. I have now successively been in private practice business for over fifty years. That’s close to 2,700 payrolls which I have made without fail. I have caught my bride mixing ketchup into boiling water, along with a package or two of stale crackers for dinner, so that we could make payroll to those folks who were assisting the development and implementation of my goals and dreams. While I will never rise to the level of or be the professionals that post advice on how to deal with age discrimination and what is going wrong versus what went wrong, I do believe I have perhaps noted the Rosetta Stone as it applies to this problem.

The best and most profitable production I have ever gotten from my staff members over the past fifty years was produced by the older worker. Always. Without exception this is true. The older person always brings to the table that knowledge which keeps my projects from disruption and remain profitable.  Always. Without exception.

 But the best ideas for future growth and services to my clients have always come from the younger, inexperienced person.  Always. Without exception.

That young, snot-nosed ” kid” never fails to bring to my practice a sense of energy and renewed focus. These young and inexperienced people have no concept yet, of how failure occurs, to the extent that anything in business fails. I do not believe in failures. We do not learn from our victories; we learn from our failures or mistakes. The young and inexperienced bring to me enthusiasm. They bring to me possibilities. They bring to me each day a new face to an old problem. As the guy who makes the payroll, I need both attitudes and attributes: The experienced and the inexperienced. The person who implements the vision must know the pitfalls.  The person who envisions the future need not know the problems associated with possible failure nor the identification of pitfalls. That attribute is relegated to the older staff members.

All this to say if the older employee were to come to work tomorrow morning with the same attitude they brought with them to work twenty or thirty years ago the probability of them being replaced, in my opinion, would be marginalized. Think back to that point in time when it was your first day on the job. Think back to the day when you got your first promotion, however that may have been defined at the time.  Can you capture that enthusiasm again?  Here’s a better question to ask yourself:  What incident along your career path stopped your enthusiasm which was then converted into a state of job description replication?  There was a time. And there was a place. You did not give up on yourself and you did not give up improving yourself.  

But something happened along your way that cost you to shift emphasis of your vision of the future and how you relate to yourself with your job and your job description. Security? Success? Success being the greatest dream killer of all. If you can recapture that moment in time and identify why you shifted, you can react in a manner that best suits your present position and your future needs.

Imagine if you will, an older employee with the vision of a novice first going to work tomorrow morning.  Now that’s a combination worth investing in!

I do wish you, each and every one of you, well on your journey. I do hope that I have not offended the brilliant and educated among us by offering advice that may not be academically or functionally correct. I am, after all is said and done, simply an Indiana farm boy who did not let schooling get in the way of his education and simply would not take no for an answer in the marketplace. I am not qualified to give advice on job discrimination per se. I merely attempted to share my professional path with others who may benefit. 

My goal was simply to share my thought process on age discrimination and the possibility of an origin of the well source and a possible course correction in attitude and implementation. For the benefit of the reader and for the benefit of all who perform in the marketplace, don’t ever give up on your vision. And discover where, when, and why you abandoned that of your greatest resources; the belief of your own convictions.

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