I watched the movie "The Intern" with Robert De Niro last night. It was such a fun show that was thought provoking.
I’m not exactly a Spring Chicken myself, so I connected with the juxtaposition from young to old. Many of the people I interact with at my yoga studio are much younger than I am. But its fun to connect them at all levels. I know I’m out of the loop a lot of the times, but that’s ok. They don’t have the experience I have in so many things.
In the movie, Robert De Niro was widowed and retired and looking for something to do. He saw an advertisement for a Senior Intern in a start-up company. It was a super hip fashion company that had a very modern business mantra. Ironically, it was the same space in a warehouse where De Niro has worked printing phone books for 40 years. It was a huge learning curve for someone who wore a suit and tie (with handkerchief), carried a flip phone, and had all his belongings in a briefcase. He didn’t even know how to get the screen on the Mac desktop to light up (I feel for him). It was a totally different work scenario for him.
His interaction with the young staff had a great affect on them. Early on, he was asking all the questions needing help with virtually everything. But as time went on and he interjected himself with others, he began to be the go-to guy because of his experience. Whether it was how to treat a lady, business experiences in meeting with people, or general decor in the workplace, he has a wealth of knowledge. It was more the practicalities of being a gentleman.
In one scene, 3 young men he had informally mentored and the head of the company, a bright flourishing young woman, went out for drinks. After a few tequilas, she started to open up. She talked about how the emergence of women in the workplace at an equal level left men wondering how to act. So much has been promoted for women that men in this new age weren’t mentored at all. So she pointed to De Niro about how to be a gentleman. About how to treat each other with respect. How to stand up and be strong, no matter who you are. Its all about how you carry yourself.
Sometimes, I feel like people lean on me in the same way. They ask me questions about business opportunities or about life events. Totally unsolicited. I’ve had people confide in me about serious life issues. And I am totally honored, and sometimes burdened, by this confidence. When I was in the Army, they often said its lonely being the leader. In order to maintain your respect, you limit any fraternization. Its not the same in civilian life, but you still reserve a portion of yourself. But when you let people in, its makes a real difference in their lives. And my life is enriched in the process as well.
I remember strong feelings I had toward a friend’s father who we saw often. He was in a retirement home and had difficulty with speaking and getting around. But you look in his eyes and you feel his handshake and you sense strength and wisdom. He’s seen things that I couldn’t even imagine. He’s seen a passage of time from advances in technology, World Wars, and immense tragedy. He’s experienced love and heartache. Never look down on an older person with condescension. They been through so much more than you have. They have a wealth of wisdom to share with us. You just have to take the time to sit and talk with them.