While having lunch in the Denny’s restaurant in Union Gap, Washington, I noticed a family come in; Grandma, son, and a grandson. At one point, Grandma was talking on her cell phone and I could easily hear her trying to make arrangements to do some babysitting for a younger grandson somewhere in a neighboring town.
When she said goodbye and turned off her cell phone, she began to talk with her son about her phone. The most interesting thing I overheard her say was to her grandson, who looked to be about 12 years old. He was trying to show her how to use some additional features on her phone, some things like favorite callers. She said, “No, no, don’t tell me anymore, don’t tell me anymore.” She knew as much as she wanted to learn about the many miraculous features of her phone.
I thought, “Wow, how true and tragic this is for many of us.” We’ve learned all we want to learn. I, for one, will certainly admit that my cell phone and computer have many applications that I am sure could make my life easier if I knew how to use them. It may be easy for us to say, “No, don’t tell me anymore” about the electronic labor-saving devices like our cell phones. A popular slang expression of the past few years is, “been there, done that.” Hopefully we’re not saying this about our life.
If you get to that place, the place where you say “No, no, don’t tell me, don’t teach me anymore,” you will soon be outmoded, of less and less value to your company, your family and yourself. The next step in the downward cycle, is finding yourself shelved, ignored, passed over, excluded, sidelined. Then comes your reward – you will be able to declare yourself a victim. There’s no place where we have less power than if and when we allow ourselves to slip into the victim mode.
On the other hand, if you stay up, stay on top of things and keep learning you will always be relevant. I don’t mean you have to be up on everything; you can’t. No one can keep up with everything in our fast changing world. The landline telephone took 75 years to hit 50 million users. It took airplanes 68 years, the automobile 62 years, light bulbs 46 years, and television 22 years to hit the same user milestone. And the pace of change accelerates – YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter hit that 50 million user mark in four, three, and two years, respectively. That may sound astonishing when compared with cars, television and light bulbs, but it’s nothing when compared with the “Angry Birds” app, which took a mere 35 days.*
To remain relevant, keep on learning something new every day, remain curious like a child, keep exploring. Learning something new, how to do something you couldn’t do before, has its own reward. The feeling of success, of victory, the discovery of personal power cannot be bought, won, or gifted. It must be earned, and regardless of your education level, your previous achievements, you can begin the fall and winter of 2017 with a new dedication to exploration and discovery. Doing this will ensure that you come to the end of 2017 knowing you will never be outmoded and you’ll be able to join the ranks of what a Harvard study called “the young-old” (old in years but having the characteristics of youth). You will be relevant all of your life.
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