In my business, I enlist the help of college interns all of the time. I love their young energy and the way they can think out of the box. They bring a lot to the table, especially in areas where I struggle and need a little help.
For instance, I don’t really like putting systems in place. Not that I don’t find value in systems, because I do. I just don’t enjoy being the person who creates them. I have my own specific skill sets in business and this is not one of them.
Well, this year’s interns helped filled that gap by putting together a complete syllabus for the next set of interns so they know exactly what to do. They came up with this comprehensive plan for them to follow, providing a play-by-play as to how to make their time with me easier and more successful for us both.
Because those interns took the time to do this, I can honestly say that my company runs so much better. No more starting at square one each time a new set of interns come in, creating and recreating the same process over and over again. Now they have something in writing to guide them, making it easier on us all.
So often, we think of the younger generation as being inexperienced, as people that the older generation must teach if they are to be of any value. But being young doesn’t mean that they have to learn from us. It’s a two-way street, a circular energy in which we can learn from them too.
Of course, this requires staying open to this possibility, of recognizing that everyone—no matter what their age—brings something to the table. It takes knowing that everyone can be a valuable contributor if given the opportunity to share their strengths, their talents, and their skills.
This is true beyond the realm of age and into any other demographic, from sex to socioeconomic status to race, and more. Everyone has something to offer, something to give that can benefit the group as a whole. Sometimes all they need is just a chance to show it.
When we approach others from the standpoint that we can learn from them as much as they can learn from us, we create this environment where everyone wins. We draw from each other’s strengths and limit each other’s weaknesses. We round each other out and become stronger as a whole.
In business, making this one little change can take your company from good to great, from surviving to thriving, from earning enough to pay the bills to earning enough to fund a comfortable retirement…for you, your kids, and your kid’s kids. It can help you establish a business so hardy that there’s no way your competition can come close to what you do, or how you do it.
Everyone brings something to the table; it’s your job to figure out what that something is. Give them the room to identify the skills and talents they already have and then give them permission to apply them in a meaningful way. You’ll be surprised what a difference this can make…for you and them both.