IUF 1000-What is the Good Life?

The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

Oscar Wilde

A few weeks ago I flew to Gainesville, Florida to speak at an event at the University of Florida (UF). It was a quick trip involving a red eye flight, tight middle seats and missed connections. Despite the somewhat rocky transit, I had an amazing time. I met with budding engineers from all over the world to talk about my experiences, life decisions and career path. The students were so curious and had a lightness about them that comes from being young and hopeful. It was really nice to be in that space again after so many years.

Besides the fireside chat with the students, the other highlight of my trip was actually my Uber ride back to the airport. I don’t typically make a habit of talking in shared rides, especially not at 6 a.m., but something about this particular driver made me comfortable and more chatty than normal. During our ride, the driver mentioned that he was a student in college double majoring in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Being an older gentleman, he spoke a while about the nuances of being 40+ and back in school. People are normally surprised to hear that someone his age has decided to revisit what most of us complete in our 20s. In my opinion, his experience in school is probably much more rich because he now has the advantage of work and life experiences as well as wisdom compared to his younger counterparts.

As we continued talking, he mentioned a course he took called UF1000 which is a humanities course focused on imparting the wisdom of 70-80 year olds on what they wished someone had told them when they were younger. My first thought was, “This is amazing and such a unique approach to learning in a university.” This thought was quickly followed by, “I wish we had this when I was in undergrad.” But then I remembered my younger self and know that the lessons the course had to impart would have probably been lost on me at that time...and I suspect this is probably the case for the majority of young students taking the course. I’m sure that later in life, the lessons from the course will be something they will refer back to. Have you ever heard the quote, “youth is wasted on the young”? The origins of the quote have been debated but I think it’s commonly attributed to George Bernard Shaw. Anyway, it came to my mind as the Uber driver was talking and as I reflected on the overall trip.

I think as adults we have an obligation to pass down advice and the wisdom of our experiences.

Is there someone in your life that can benefit from hearing your story? A neighbor’s kid, someone at church, an intern at work? I don’t think we have to look too far to find someone that can benefit from our experiences.

I hope that if you don’t already, you will consider sharing what you have learned along the way with the young people in your life. You don’t have to be 80 years old to tell your story and to impart the lessons. That’s really my goal with this blog and I would also like to challenge you to reflect on your life and think about what you wish someone had told the younger version of yourself or even, what you were told but didn’t listen to.


Aji OliyideComment