Top 10 reasons why you are your own biggest asset

By Neil Patrick

If ageism is rife amongst employers and you are concerned that your age is threatening your career and future prosperity, stop and think about this. You've got stacks of experience and have learned through many years of seeing successes and failures at work. Your present or prospective employer may not place much value on this, but truthfully, they are just plain wrong! That experience cannot be replaced by any amount of youthful vigor and enthusiasm. It’s of immense value and yet how often do you really think about it?

Here are my top 10 reasons to help you reassess how you think about yourself and your future. Every one of these massively increases your personal value. And I’ll bet you haven't even put most of them on your CV.

You have a strong work ethic 
For most of us, years of working have programmed our minds and bodies so that we almost automatically get up on a Monday morning fully expecting to spend the next five days in productive work. Compare this to the employers of younger staff who often have to make contingency plans for a significant percentage of their workforce not even turning up on a Monday morning because of ‘sickness’, childcare problems or just plain laziness.

You've learned things by being there even if you've not actually done them 
Unlike the youngsters, you have been able to observe years and years of your colleagues’ and bosses’ triumphs and failures. Didn't that teach your something? For sure, it taught you lots. Just because you cannot show these things on your CV doesn't mean they aren't massively valuable to you.

You know how to communicate clearly 
This skill appears on just about every job specification. But how is it measured? The answer is usually that it isn't except by the impressions of the interviewers. These cannot verify whether you can even spell let alone produce a compelling argument on paper. I’d say that not prefixing every verb and noun in your sentences with the word, ‘like’ actually shows that your brain is your own and is quick and sharp... 

You know that the customer is king
Whatever your career has involved, you've dealt with customers. Not necessarily paying buyers, but customers nonetheless. The term usually used for this is ‘stakeholders’. Even if you were not in a commercial environment, you've had to satisfy someone to ensure you kept your job. It’s odd that younger people often take a little time to latch onto this simple and fundamentally important point and to conduct themselves accordingly. You on the other hand know it instinctively.

You don’t have to be told what to do, or in what order
After all those years of experience, you have developed a sixth sense for prioritizing things. We all have too many demands on our time in a job, so it’s critical that we can distinguish what’s important and what really isn't. Again this is a key skill that only comes with maturity, self confidence and experience.

You have an innate appreciation of risk
All human endeavors involve some form of risk. We become more attuned to this as we mature and develop strategies that minimize it. This isn't fear, it’s a reasoned assessment, weighing the upside gains against the downside risks and acting accordingly. With maturity, our actions are instinctively balanced with risk assessment as an influence. Remember how when you were a child you believed you were indestructible? Or think about why it is that your car insurance premiums fall as you get older…

You can listen as well as you speak
‘I have one mouth and two ears and I use them in that proportion’ That’s not my quotation, but it contains real wisdom. Listening skills not only enable you to make better decisions, they enable an appreciation of what other people are saying. This in turn enhances your ability to show empathy. And that’s a word that appears in a lot of job descriptions...

You don’t panic in a crisis
We learn as we go through life, that often things just don’t work out how we intended or expected. But with maturity, we can see things in perspective and therefore react more calmly when this happens. After all we've seen things go wrong so many times before. Calmness under pressure means that we can devise a new course of action faster and limit the damage more effectively.

Your ego is not out of control
We've all met him or her. The young thruster who’s so fired up by their own sense of self importance that they rub everyone up the wrong way. Their mission is called ‘me’, not ‘us’. Yet organisations do little to control these individuals; such behavior is mislabeled as enthusiasm. It’s not and it is damaging to everyone. Funnily enough all the people I've ever encountered with this affliction were under 40…

You know that you are worth a lot more than just what it says on your CV
If you didn't before, I hope you do now.

There is a minor caveat however. By the time we are in our 40’s and beyond, all those years of working have conditioned us in some negative ways too. We are so used to measuring ourselves against the yardsticks our employers choose to use, that we forget all the other things we have learned and achieved. I hope the points above have reminded you of some of these. Many of these things are not even learned in the workplace or classroom. They are from what some call the ‘school of life’ and that’s the most effective learning place in existence.

As I said in my opening, YOU are your own biggest asset regardless of what your employment outlook currently is. Exploiting that asset is the key to your future. I hope the above helps you to expand your ideas about not only your own capabilities, but what you could achieve with them in future. And that is a very great deal.