A recent Business Week article focused on the lack of etiquette skills of the millennials currently graduating from college:

“They’ve grown up with this Web 2.0 mentality that there’s complete equality in the world. They think, if everyone has access to the same information then we’re all equal, so I know as much as you do even though I’m 20 and you’re 55,” said Patricia L. Bower, clinical associate professor of management communication, New York University Stern School of Business.

The lack of respect of the young for the accumulated knowledge of their elders is far from a new topic——it easily dates back to Socrates. I’m sure we will some day discover cave drawings bemoaning the sorry state of the latest crop of young‘uns. That said, unconscious incompetence is one of the most dangerous mentalities you can run into. There are few greater perils than the confident incompetents. Their confidence is supreme and reassuring, comforting even. Unfortunately, unconscious incompetents radiate such matchless self-assurance because they are blissfully ignorant of the lurking threats and potential for disaster.

The majority of people working for me now were not born when I purchased my first real estate investment. I’ve learned lots from them; I hope it is mutual. I’ve made more mistakes then I care to remember but I’ve assiduously learned from each one: studied, analyzed, reviewed, determined to wrest every last coin of value from my tuition at the school of hard knocks. I read voraciously, deeply motivated to learn from the other guys’ experiences and mistakes, greatly desiring to avoid the pain of a direct learning experience.

The truth of the matter is those with experience often overvalue it, those without experience (and the gray hairs it can bring) often undervalue wisdom that time can bring. Unfortunately, to quote Douglas Adams, “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”

Closing quotes:

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” — Mark Twain

“All that I know I learned after I was thirty.” — Georges Clemenceau

“If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d all be millionaires.” — Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby)