In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, the importance of diversity and inclusion is recognized and in many cases a diligent priority. Now more than ever, we recognize the many benefits of having diverse teams, such as the opportunity to generate a variety of solutions to achieve a common goal or the ability to inspire more creativity. Diversity also forces us to challenge our perspectives or standard ways of thinking. These benefits can extend beyond the workplace as we invite diversity into our personal relationships or the content we consume to name a few.
When we think of diversity, we may think of diversity in culture or background. Perhaps diversity in gender or religion. But what about diversity in age??
Picture this: a savvy and sophisticated sixty-something year old sharing dinner with a dynamic and driven thirty-something year old, commiserating over a great bottle of wine and a fabulous meal at a trendy new eatery in town. If you saw these two on a Friday night, you might think they were family- maybe mother and daughter. But what if they were friends?
Intergenerational friendships are enriching social connections that unlock new perspectives while fostering mentorship, inspiration and growth. Here’s how.
Just like a kaleidoscope, intergenerational friendships bring together a vibrant tapestry of experiences, skills, and insights. Each generation contributes to the intellectual landscape of the relationship in irreplaceable ways.
Seasoned peers have weathered the storms of the past, identified keys to prosperity, lived through transformations, and amassed a wealth of knowledge along the way. Armed with years (and often, decades), their lived experience cannot be bought or duplicated- their wisdom is hard-won. However, they may struggle to see familiar patterns in a new light.
On the other hand, fresh minds bring innovative ideas, technological prowess, and an infectious enthusiasm. Their creative energy breathes new life into old concepts and infrastructures once thought to be black and white. With a hunger to learn and grow, they are only hindered by the lessons they haven’t lived through yet.
In intergenerational friendships, both can reap the rewards from exposure to new perspectives and ways of thinking.
Intergenerational friendships offer a unique opportunity for mentorship. While it's common to envision mentorship as a one-way street, where the more senior guides the younger, the truth is that mentorship flows both ways.
Seasoned peers can impart their wisdom, providing guidance on navigating the antics of business or career, personal and professional development, managing work-life balance, or common challenges that arise in various seasons of life. Simultaneously, younger peers can share insights on emerging trends, present new business or lifestyle challenges reflective of the times, and conversely, present new solutions reflective of the times.
The result? A dynamic exchange that ignites the spark of human connection, trust, mutual respect, and friendship.
We've all heard the stereotypes-- millennials glued to their screens, baby boomers resistant to change. But intergenerational friendships challenge these preconceived notions, shattering the barriers that divide us.
An intergenerational friendship can be one of mutual respect and deep appreciation. By engaging in meaningful conversations and building connections, we can gain a deeper understanding of each other's unique perspectives and circumstances (the similarities and differences) as well as our challenges, fears, and dreams. From this posture, we can find commonality, foster empathy, and feel understood and seen in a completely new way.
Creativity thrives when diverse minds collaborate, and intergenerational friendships provide the perfect breeding ground for inspiration. The fusion of experience and fresh thinking sparks innovation and can be a powerful catalyst for personal and professional growth.
There is boldness in embracing these intergenerational connections, celebrating and learning from our differences, and embarking on a supportive journey of friendship, mentorship, and inspiration.