The Connecting Life’s Stages Series Stage 8: The Source of Wisdom Stage (Age 82 and beyond)

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 21, Issue No. 1a
June 1, 2023

By Dan Coughlin


The only source of knowledge is experience

The foundational purpose of this series, and for all of my work for that matter, is to help people achieve whatever it is that they want to achieve.

Old age brings with it so many physical ailments that it can be very painful to endure. However, there is one very clear advantage that the oldest people among us have over everyone else. They literally have seen, lived through, and dealt with things for a longer time than everyone else.

And they are not done learning. I’m always inspired when people in their 80s and 90s are studying hard to learn more about some topic. In terms of achieving what they want to achieve these wise people are still actively making efforts to love and care for other people. Even in allowing other people to care for them, they are showing their love for those people.

Feeding my mom and dad in the last months of their lives was their way of loving me by allowing me to love them.

Perhaps the greatest gift that the oldest among us have to offer is their wisdom. To me, wisdom is the perspective people have developed over a lifetime. These people are quite literally sources of wisdom that other people can draw from if those people would just be willing to listen. Far too often and for far too long the oldest people in our society seem to be discounted as meaningless and irrelevant. It’s like walking past gold and calling it coal.

The sources of wisdom are there, but people need to go to the source; the source is not always going to come to them. In tender quiet moments with other people these wise elders can distribute wisdom and make a meaningful difference if people will quiet down and truly listen.

Imagine a source of electricity or water. You would protect that source so that it can continue to fuel your area. The same is true with a person in The Source of Wisdom Stage. Other people need to protect them and truly listen in order to gain the fuel of their insights.


Over the past four months, we have mentally walked through 8 stages in a person’s life: explorer, young pioneer, young leader, empowered and responsible, crossroad choices, maturity, sageing, and source of wisdom stage.

In each stage we can see connections to other stages. That’s important to realize. You were not just plopped into a stage. All the stages affect the other stages. By understanding the insights gained in each stage and working to understand how those insights affect other stages, we can get better and better at stepping back and understanding how to make the most of each stage.

This work on connecting your life’s stages does require a fair amount of reflecting, discerning, and deciding, but it can help to greatly increase your effectiveness and impact in trying to achieve what you want to achieve and contribute what you want to contribute to other people.

Whatever stage of life you are in right now, I encourage you to step off the train of constant activity and really reflect on a few questions like these:

  1. Who am I in this stage of my life? What are my values, morals, habits, passions, and strengths?
  2. Where have I been? What were my passions, strengths, dreams, and desires? What did I learn from an earlier stage?
  3. Where do I want to go in any future stage that I have left? What contribution do I want to make? How do I want to deploy my values, morals, habits, passions, and strengths?

Remember the great Walt Whitman quote, “The mighty play moves forward, and you will have an opportunity to contribute a verse. What will your verse say?”

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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