What Makes a Communicator Ageless?

No matter how we try we can’t turn back clocks. Time passes, even for communicators. And our perceived relevance can shift with each passing day.

That certainly is what I learned when an executive search consultant warned me about the impact of age in our profession.

But age alone does not make anyone irrelevant. Time may pass but we control how we use that time. And we determine how we push ourselves to grow.

So, as we look at the clock, and ourselves, let’s reach beyond the conventional definitions of age to strengthen our skills and experience so that we can become ageless, not defined by how time we have experienced but by how much value our experience delivers.

No matter how many years have passed since our birth, we don’t have to be victims of our age; we can, instead, let what we have learned during these years free us to focus on what can make a difference to the organizations and people we serve.

Consider five ways to make yourself an ageless communicator.

Reinvent. The communication world is, of course, not the same as when many of us started working. That can be said for many professions, not just us. So it’s no surprise that professionals in any line of work have to constantly reinvent themselves. This is not a challenge only necessary for communicators. We have to reach beyond what’s current to what may be anticipated so we can prepare the people we connect with and the organizations we work for. And we won’t do that well if we’re stuck in believing the ways we used to communicate are still the only ways.

Recommit. The communication world, however, should not be defined by its tools. The tools constantly change; the need to engage remains constant. So as much as we must be comfortable with what new tools can do, and how they can contribute, we can’t let ourselves ever believe that our work is all about the tools. We are only as strong as how we engage, how we inspire action, how we motivate contribution. Those persuasive experiences are not about tools; they are about people. And we understand, better than many, what inspires people to make a difference.

Rethink. The communication world, as well, becomes more efficient as time passes. And so must we. We can’t continue to do our work the way we have always done our work, or else those who observe and assess us may not value the results we create when our process looks and feels out of date. So charge yourself to adopt some “just in time” improvement of your work processes to make sure how you produce is as current as what you produce.

Rephrase. The communication world, too, doesn’t sound the same as it once did. And neither can we. If we continue to describe our work as we did at a different time we may create a lovely historical picture of that remembered time. But people talk differently today and we must listen; people express differently today and we must adjust. It’s not good enough to be good. We have to describe the value we bring in words and phrases that people, working today, can understand.

Refresh. The communication world, as we know, can be unforgiving, especially as time passes and we become more experienced. We can’t change those who hold it against us that we were born before they were. Or that we can remember the flight of Apollo 13 or the death of John F. Kennedy. But we can demonstrate how real value is timeless just as valuable communicators are ageless. But that won’t happen if we look, feel and act as though we are tired from all the years we have worked. We have to refresh ourselves so we bring as much enthusiasm to each opportunity as anyone of any age. The difference is we know what works.

Comments (2)

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  1. Dom Crincoli says:

    Hi Mark:

    This is a brilliant post. Thank you for sharing the wisdom of your perspective here at a communicator’s view.

    I was particularly inspired by the following, which really sums things up:

    “We are only as strong as how we engage, how we inspire action, how we motivate contribution. Those persuasive experiences are not about tools; they are about people.”

    Cheers,

    Dom

  2. A solid recipe to help the age issue no doubt. That said though, no amount of reinvention will alter the mindset of folks not sensitive, cognizant or appreciative of the vital importance of seasoned communications executives.

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