Marilyn Olson is Executive Director of VillagesOKC.

By Marilyn Olson

Mature adults are leaders. We have seen a few things, and we have learned a few things. We are hardworking individuals who have learned leadership over a lifetime of refining career skills. Our brains are “time wise.”
Most of the 370,000 everyday leaders over 55 living in greater Oklahoma City are grateful for an opportunity to give time, experience, and finances. Mature adults generously offer these resources to the community without which there would be a void. The individuals, businesses, organizations and faith communities who see the value and incorporate that experience will benefit and will also become wise.
There are many examples of this mature, everyday leadership among the VillagesOKC membership, from pastors and former executives to engineers and journalists. All these individuals bring with them an eagerness to remain active and to give back to their community. VillagesOKC offers the opportunity for older adults to use the skills they’ve acquired over a lifetime or to learn new ways to grow and contribute.
The incredible wit and wisdom of people over 50 can reveal secrets and insights for living a meaningful life – simply not possible without experience. Their thoughtful perspectives offer a treasure trove of life lessons about perseverance, the human spirit, and staying positive in the midst of great challenges.
Leaders over 50 became leaders because they have utilized their learning to continue growing. Often this growth has led to a paradigm shift opening more doors of opportunity. This quality gives hope and causes others to say “she is inspiring”; “he is such a delight to be with,” or I hope I can be as sharp and interesting a person as he is.”
When people are happy and confident, others enjoy their company and follow their leadership in the community or organization. To think that organizations, businesses and faith communities would ignore those over 50 when they could be the beneficiary of experience, talent and generosity.
Fortunately, Oklahoma City is the kind of community which values the irreplaceable talent and wisdom of mature adults in every sector of the community. It simply makes sense to begin changing the conversation about aging and include these generous and wise adults as an integral part and a key partner.
The community benefits when recognizing leaders are leaders at any age. VillagesOKC is a plan for aging that connects a community leading the way to fill the gaps.