I had the most amazing Uber ride today. My driver was a late sixties-ish, female from Nigeria who’d moved to Saint Pete, Florida 20+ years ago. I share this with you for context as we had a fabulous life conversation. I have no idea how it started, but with about 30 minutes left in the ride, we found ourselves in one of those conversations we’re not supposed to have. We spoke about multiple gaps in humanity. Politics, gender, race, faith and age.
Did you just cringe a little? I get why. Social media and drinking socially are the wrong platform and places for conversations like these. In person and in harmony, however, I love them. They’re real. They’re enlightening. They give us the opportunity to listen and understand. They give us the chance to problem solve as we realize the quote below, which literally popped into my head as we were speaking, is so simply true.
“Everything is different, yet nothing has changed.” Yes, life is different today. We look at politics, gender, race, faith and age gaps, very thankfully, very differently than a generation ago.
Speaking of which, let’s take age as a very pertinent, dentally relevant example. There is a massive gap between our seasoned and young dental leaders today. So much so, I have six scheduled sessions with different organized dental groups in the next six months to help.
Think about the age gap and what life has taught us if we simply take the time to reflect for a second. Parents of the 60s and early 70s young adults looked at their kids and questioned their hair… their dress… their music… their work ethic… and their principles. Then what happened? Those crazy coined hippies grew up. They became the parents. And what did they have to say about their kids? Same questions? Just for different reasons? And so on… and here we are today with you as the young adult being questioned. Now flip it.
We all play a role in this. Think about how you perceive people a generation above you. How about two generations above you? Are they wise mentors to you or has beens who need to get with the program?
I remember my first psychology class in high school. It didn’t take me more than a week to go home and diagnose my parents with everything they’d done and were doing wrong. As I got older and laughed about it with my dad, I still remember his smirking and telling me it was okay because up until he got close to it, his generation’s mantra was, “Never trust anyone over 30.”
Here’s the lesson: Every day you meet people of all ages, races, faiths, etc… You can choose to learn from them, despite your differences and their views of you. You can choose to fight them for any of the same reasons. My advice, having been in dentistry for 27 years and on this earth for 51, is simple.
Learn from everyone. Learn who you want to be from mentors who stand for honesty, integrity, respect and excellence. Learn who you don’t want to be from those who don’t share those qualities. Lastly, just remember when everything seems different, it’s likely that not all that much has changed.