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Monday, October 20, 2014

Blessings of The Silver Tsunami

Times must be changing. During my teenage years, I remember all of my aging bosses and co-workers plugging away toward retirement. That is IF they could afford retirement! I often sensed a feeling of drudgery among the older crown of fifty-plus in age.

In my Air Force days, I believe the same sentiment existed. The “lifers” were looking forward to paychecks for a lifetime after twenty or more years of service. This is not to say that they did not serve their country out of a true sense of duty or commitment.

What they may have missed was an appreciation for the wisdom and experience that had been gained over their years of service. And beyond that, enjoying the opportunity to mentor and bring added value to the job.

Maybe I’m thinking about this right now for a couple of reasons. First, I am coming up on age 63 this week. Secondly, in a more practical sense, I have found a great amount of satisfaction in my work in this decade of my 60s.

For one thing, I’ve settled any performance questions. I’m not trying to “prove my worth” or value to an organization. My skills are what they are. I still work on getting better, but only because the pursuit of excellence is never ending.

When I arrived at age 50, I was told by several friends and associates that “your best years are in front of you.” At the time, I thought this was said by those who simply wanted to feel good about themselves at this point in life. But now I realize ... it is true. And it makes me wonder why all those people I knew decades ago couldn’t wait for retirement.

About a year ago, I read an article that supported my awareness of this. It came from a study by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It started out by saying, “Not happy with your job? Just wait.” It had that kind of Back to the Future sense.

The significant claim from this research found that 9 in 10 workers, age 50 or older, were somewhat or very satisfied with their job. This held true regardless of gender, race, educational level, political ideology, or income level. Younger workers did not fare so well.

It wasn’t all a bed of roses. Significant numbers reported unwelcome comments about their age and being passed over for raises or promotions. But far more comments addressed the positive impact of age. On the plus side, these Baby Boomers (often categorized as the Silver Tsunami) reported that colleagues often turned to them for advice. Increased respect was also noted.

Of course, some stay on the job for economic necessity. Others genuinely like their work. Many claim it gives them a sense of fulfillment.

I’m a blend of those reasons. The income is still a necessity. I really DO like my work. And I definitely feel fulfilled. 

The Bible has much to say about wisdom. In Job chapter 12, we read “Wisdom is with the aged and understanding in length of days.” (Job 12:12, ESV)

I’m particularly grateful that my employer, Salem Communications, felt that my experience and capabilities were of value. Age was not a barrier. The welcoming banner for my radio program still appears on our web page. 

Thank you, Jeff Reisman!

As the song goes, “There’s no business like show business!” Ain’t it the truth!

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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