Senior Correspondent Mike Causey is on vacation. This is the third guest column in a series of five written by Federal Report readers.
When I turned 50, my friend said to me, “Well, you know, you’re not in the prime demographic anymore.”
He, of course, was referring to that special group of people who determine which television shows get aired. If you’re over 50, turns out TV execs don’t care what you want to watch. If you’re lucky, you can find something that you like before that 8 p.m. bedtime. But, if not, no one, including you, will lose any sleep over it.
At work, you are no longer the rising young star filled with energy and passion and the sense that you know it all! I’ve heard it said that your parents learn a lot between the time you turn 20 and the time you turn 30. Surprisingly enough, the same can be said for the people you work with!
In my 20’s, starting out with the federal government, I was an impassioned supporter of whatever project I worked on. I threw all my energy into loving everything I did and hoping to change the world with it.
In my 30’s I became more serious and ambitious, and in my 40’s started settling down to “get it done.” Someone once told me during that era, “You have your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground at the same time.” By 50, the feet and head both are pretty far below the clouds.
I recently read on Federal News Radio that the latest survey shows that older federal workers are more satisfied in their jobs. That makes sense. By then, you’ve pretty much accepted that you can’t change the whole world by yourself.
I remember as a supervisor having an employee who always made suggestions that involved reorganizing the entire unit. I always had to say “No”. One day he suggested something that was a small change, and I was thrilled to finally be able to say “YES!” I didn’t want to dampen his enthusiasm, but the government is such a big machine that it takes a lot of pushing to move all the pieces at one time.
When you’re older, you realize that you have to take your change in baby steps. It helps that, by then, the restless energy has mostly burned itself out, so baby steps feel pretty good.
Like the tortoise and the hare, the slow but methodical pace learned from experience (and forced by aches and pains!) can be just as effective as the scurrying of earlier years. It’s just a slightly different dance. — Kay in Md.
Shop workers at luxury boutiques are more likely to think you’re a visiting celebrity if you wear sweatpants, according to a recent Harvard Business School study, which studied how “nonconforming behaviors can cause others to confer on you higher status and competence.”