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Knowledge talks but wisdom listens

Let me introduce you to Big Ron Cox … my dad.

We’re going to hear from him in just a sec, but I should probably explain what he’s doing here in the first place.

I’m about to hit a landmark birthday and I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learnt and achieved during my first fortyish years, and in my career in particular. During those periods of reflection, my dad kept popping into my head, and I began to wonder what he would say if I asked him to sum up his own learnings, having now retired.

So, it’s over to you to Big Ron…

I have many decades of experience to call upon. The question is whether I have many years of experience or just one year’s experience many times over. Certainly, many of the things I have learnt I discovered many years ago while others are much more recent.

Early on I discovered life should not rely on mere chance. You need to formulate plans and develop and modify them as you go along. I also came to learn that you only fail if you give up, until then you are just learning. However, while you are learning it is ok not to know something, but the mistake is not to try.

Another lesson I learned was that making it look easy is hard work.

Luck cannot be relied upon in life either, it tends to play a role from time to time but at best should be looked upon as a bonus. True success is based on hard work, planning, foresight and good practice.

I’ve learned of the need to be a good team player, to play my part fully in the various teams I was in. This taught me skills of co-operation, support, leadership, questioning, listening, analysis, planning, reporting, discipline and developing and applying rules and interpersonal skills. All of these equipped me for work, social activities and family life too.

Life can sometimes seem to be a series of diminishing options. For example, we all learn a wide range of subjects at school and then start to specialise in our late teens. Those who go to university choose a degree subject, those who go into the work environment specialise in the needs of the jobs they do. Often progress relies on business management skills rather than the original qualifications or skill sets that people brought to their organisations, so ongoing new learning and experience is essential throughout life- stay curious.

A cheerful disposition and a ready smile will influence others. Combine these with belief in yourself and a genuine care for and interest in others, then I believe you and those around you will benefit and succeed.

Finally, remember ‘knowledge talks but wisdom listens.’

I opened his email with some trepidation, what if his experience of 50+ years in the workplace differed wildly from my own? But it’s clear, whether you’re just starting out in your career, you’re reaching middle age or find yourself looking back over your time spent working once retired, making it look easy IS hard work, but absolutely worth it in the end. Thanks Big Ron, you’re a legend. I hope one day I’ll have listened enough to be as wise as you.


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