Do people improve with age?

January 24, 2019 3:41 pm

Contrary to popular belief, older adults on average, do not suffer from low self-esteem. In a recent study that included more than 165,000 participants, scientists have found that we tend to feel better about ourselves as we get older. They specifically found that children’s self-esteem tends to rise until age 11, then remains stable until age 15 when it starts to rise again through much of our lives.

Adults can continue to expect elevations in their self-esteem through to age 60, where it stabilises for the next decade. The real reductions do not happen until people are in their 90’s!

What does this mean for business leaders?

The next time you hear some rubbish about how changing and learning as being too hard on older workers, that they don’t have the confidence to learn new ways of working – keep in mind they are fully able to handle any setback, frustration and other ‘bumps to their ego’ with their self-esteem fully intact.

Other research supports the notion that we improve cognitively, physically and emotionally when we get a certain amount of challenge in our lives. Just like regular exercise, our brain and our psyche need regular workouts to get and stay fit.

No matter what your age, give yourself a challenge every day – push yourself to do the things you think you cannot. Whether you succeed or not, you will keep building confidence as you have more experiences in life.

As leaders, don’t dismiss the strength of your older workers – they’ve toughened up through their life experience and will not break if they try something and it doesn’t work the first time. In fact, plenty of research shows older people are more persistent than younger workers and increased self-esteem is likely a contributor to their willingness to keep going when things are tough.

If your organisation is going through changes/challenges and you would like to know more about how to ensure you keep your highly experienced workers on the job and fully engaged, we would love to chat with you. We have developed programs that help leaders know how to lead people in a fast-changing high-uncertainty marketplace.

Photo Credit Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash


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