Coaching CEOs, Presidents, and C-Suite executives for the last 20+ years has taught me a lot about what matters to leaders. While I’ve heard it said a variety of ways, it turns out that what matters to leaders is the desire to impact and make a difference, and this desire is there whether the leader is 25 or 95.

This need to make a difference seems to accelerate when we enter the last third of our lives, the so-called “wisdom years.” We often hear that the benefit of age is “wisdom,” the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

I am fortunate to have advisors and mentors of all ages, and in my experience, wisdom is not the sole purview of age. 

Indeed, experience counts; if I’ve done something before, it’s familiar the second time. I am likely to do it faster and better, and I may be able to teach you how to do it faster and better. 

On the other hand, knowledge and good judgment are qualities possessed by people of all ages. And here is where the caution comes in. While I may have more experience than someone younger, do I have more knowledge and better judgment? My sense is the answer to this question is situational. 

Perhaps the recognition that time is running out drives many of us to want to impart our wisdom. Yet, if we stop and pause for a moment, we know that regardless of how much I think I know and can help, Socrotes’ teachings always apply. 

I wonder if true wisdom lies in knowing when to offer what we perceive as wisdom and when to wait to be asked. 

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