ap·pro·pri·ate verb /əˈprōprēˌāt/
devote to a special purpose.
I was obnoxious, impertinent, and confident. I didn’t think I knew more than everyone else, I knew I did. Some of my teachers, especially the math ones, couldn’t stand me. I knew better and more efficient ways to get to the answers than the painfully tedious ways they were walking the class through.
Why couldn’t everyone else just see it my way.
As an orphan without much fathering, I was figuring it all out on my own. I made most of my own decisions and lived in a world where whatever I thought was right, pretty much was. This forced me to grow up a lot faster than I should have and often had my adolescence and inappropriate freedom leading me in all the wrong directions (I’ll spare you all the sordid details).
Understanding my own identity as a man and understanding all the gaps in my masculine journey to adulthood was a necessary, but very challenging journey. There was a natural progression of things I needed to learn, know, and understand, that I had largely missed in my matriculation from boy to man. It is the same for nearly every honest man or woman I have ever come across.
The revelation of all of this, had me doubling back to fill in gaps in my developmental journey. It also had me aggressively seeking out the wisdom of old age. It was in this season that I began to see myself as an “Inverse Abraham,” a son of many fathers. I needed and cried out for maturity, wisdom, and mentoring.
God rescued me.
I had mentors and older men in seemingly every corner of my life that selflessly spoke into, challenged, and encouraged me. It even affected my work as an investment manager. My standard opening line with new investment coverage was:
"I am just smart enough to know there are a lot of people smarter than me."
I had a lot to learn.
I valued the wisdom of age.
I was open to hearing what they had to say.
I would apply what they taught me.
A little secret: All of us older guys have energy for younger guys who are sincerely interested in doing the hard work of growing, refining, and transforming.
And I was.
It was a sweet season of growing as a man, father, and in my leadership in every arena. I went from passive-aggressively resolved to what others described as clear, confident, and formidable. Others also described my clarity and conviction as “disruptive.” With a heart also in some stage of transformation, some even described it as “disruptive for good.”
I am far more gray than I was in that season, but I still seek out the wisdom of age. I desire to sit at the feet of sages and mighty men of wisdom. I have even been so overwhelmed with a sense of honor at the man sitting before me that I have fought the urge to take off my shoes and kneel before them as they share truth, wisdom, and experience.
These ideas play out powerfully in our work. Our Transformation Roadmap for companies has us:
- Organizing a healthy leadership team
- Cultivating real core values and purpose
- Crafting a vision (those values and purpose powerfully lived out 2-3 years in the future)
- Creating a solid strategic plan to realize that future
- Building the organizational structure of the future it will take to fulfill that plan
That often means that leaders (and typically older ones) need to transition into different roles. Our new mantra for transitioning experienced leadership is to…
Honor and Appropriate
Honor, honor, honor, all that they have contributed to the success of the organization to this point. Appropriate that experience, wisdom, and knowledge in a way that honors them and brings the greatest benefit to the organization and the future. Based on my story and experience, that is a huge win-win… for everybody.
- Do you have sages in your life?
- Do you regularly carve out the time to learn the things that only the experience of others can teach?
- If you are a sage with more to offer than you’ve maybe realized, who is currently in your orbit that you can invest in?