The concept of “staying relevant” started appearing in business periodicals and blogs only about a decade ago. Largely, it addresses staying up to date with technology and with customer tastes and needs. For someone like me, who has “more yesterdays than tomorrows” (to paraphrase Bill Clinton), staying relevant is personal; it means not fading into the woodwork while shaking my head at younger generations.
I was an early adopter of computers and worked in high tech in the 90’s so my technical skills are above average for my age. Over the years, I’ve tried not to rest on my laurels (if I ever had laurels). Although new software programs make my head explode, I attempt to tackle them pretending to have the same fearlessness I had in the 90’s.
Comfort vs. Growth
I believe befriending people of all generations is one way to stay relevant. It’s tempting to want to hang out with people who understand your aches and pains or slow gait. It’s comfortable to unapologetically forget what you were about to say mid-sentence. But if I’ve learned anything, it is that comfort and growth are often mutually exclusive. Staying relevant means getting out of one’s comfort zone.
Sassy and Bad-Assy
Younger people may want to dismiss me but I’m trying my best to not make that an easy dismissal. That sassy attitude is one that I’ve cultivated my whole life and I recommend to everyone regardless of age.
With that in mind, here’s my 7-step process for stayin’ alive and relevant:
1. Tackle new projects and new technologies even if it takes all day.
2. Join a club or organization that offers contact with people of all ages and backgrounds.
3. Refrain from complaining about your health.
4. Read articles and books that help you understand the current trends, culture and interests.
5. Embrace change. The old way of doing things was good and right in the past; explore new ways of behaving.
6. Clean out your closet; and, finally,
7. Get lost and discover a new way home.