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You’re the man



So there go the holidays for another year, well the summer one at least.  This morning I was greeted by a grey and wet sky, no tube and a slog into work.  It’s good to be back.

Compare this with the scene of sitting around the pool in 30 degrees heat and more.  The place we stay is small, but lively enough for some people watching.  The kids play, the adults read and somewhere in the middle are the teenagers, neither one nor the other.  I sat watching a couple of boys interact with a group of girls.  The boys were british, the girls french.  Being teenagers, being male and (maybe) being british, they did what young males do best and displayed their bravado with back flips, rough and tumble and of course stealing the girls’ towels. 

Just outside of the place that we stay there is a lay by.  Each day in the lay by there is a man, with his tractor selling melons.  We call him the melon man and his presence is celebrated by my kids with squeals and calls of, “you’re twisting my melon man” (God knows where they learnt that!).  He is there selling his melons every day, he has been there every year we’ve visited and I’m sure for many a year before and I hope for many years to come.

All of this started me thinking about strength and perceptions of strength and how these change over time.  I’m not teenager, nor am I an old man.  My inner cheese-monkey is happily transitioning me from one to the other (during the holidays at a quicker than normal pace).  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, maybe it’s because my back-flipping days are over (I’m struggling to remember when they ever existed!) but I’m hugely more impressed by the melon man than the kids.  Probably no surprise?

Then I think about work and I think about how often we are taken in by the brash and the forceful and the high gloss presentation and ambition of youth.  How many times do we place value on these elements and overlook the commitment, dedication and endeavour.  Think back to the last time you or your organisation was making redundancies.  Out with the old in with the new?  In the UK we are seeing and are likely to see significant redundancies within the Public Sector.  I wouldn’t mind betting that the majority of those going will be in the higher age bracket.

Maybe I’m just getting on, maybe this mindset is all about self-preservation.  Maybe.  But quite frankly, I’d rather a melon man than a one trick pony.  True strength manifests itself in many forms, sometimes we just need to cast away the stereotypes and assumptions in order to see it.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Corporate Daycare permalink
    08/23/2010 13:42

    Welcome back, Melon Man.

  2. Lena permalink
    08/23/2010 14:05

    Good to see you back…

  3. garethmjones permalink
    08/23/2010 18:34

    Welcome back sir! I’m biased, because i too am making the transition from teenager (In my head) and old man (in my body!) but i sense you are right. Our obsession with youth started a long time ago, back in the 80’s when the city decided that the stock broking/bond trading markets needed to turf out all the long standing employees in favour of Porche chasing white sock chav monkeys. Many a ‘geezer’ was transformed into a wealthy stockbroker and as we turfed out the old guard, along went the knowledge and the experience. Out went the ability to ride the waves because you had seen it before. Out went the ability to keep your head and not over react when the going got tough. In came dispensable youngsters who didn’t give a toss about risk. Nearly 30 years on, where are the financial markets now?

    And of course, shedding the older folk has the advantage of saving money like clearing out the longer term pension liabilities too. I know at least one major high street name that had an informal policy of culling people at 49, 1 year before they could secure full pension.

    Im pretty sure though, that it wont be sustainable. The aged population is going to be huge and with comparably smaller pensions and investments and a smaller, younger working population to prop it up, the oldies will have to do something. And i think you will see, in the next few years, a significant rise in what i would refer to as ‘silver’ ‘grey’ or ‘wrinkly’ entrepreneurs. Older, possibly pension aged folk, fed up with their poor treatment and lack of opportunities, starting businesses and collaborating for mutual benefit with others of an older persuasion.

    And guess who they’ll be hiring?

  4. Bored Bob permalink
    08/24/2010 15:17

    Dull, long winded and trite. Give me short, young and punchy any day if the alternative is listening to Mr Earnest recount what he thought about on his holidays.

  5. 08/24/2010 15:41

    @Corporate Daycare – Thanks…..

    @Lena – Ditto!

    @garethmjones – Absolutely agree. All things require balance, but shiny and new alone will never cut it. Well at least not in my opinion.

    @Bored Bob – Welcome and thanks for commenting……I think. My mum always used to tell me that only boring people were bored. But you’re the exception right?


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