The circle of life has a truth and completeness about it. We come into the world, we need help, support, guidance so that we can learn the ropes and participate as independent people, until its our own turn to do the same for the next generation.

Then we gradually fizzle out and eventually reach a similar stage of dependence on others, until we exit, stage left.

This got me thinking about our working lives as well, how we start not knowing anything – about a new career, new job, new company and their products and services – reliant on others to show us the way, give us the knowledge and the inside track until we can work alone, be trusted, and contribute productively.

My rule of thumb was 12 months. I felt it was a full 12 months before people were genuinely up to speed and actively leading or contributing. Then their experience of having seen a full 4 quarters play out allows them to build on the previous calendar year and improve the business. Some people think that after the second period of 12 months you start to stagnate and should move to a fresh challenge, but that has always seemed premature to me. Sure, I’ll give a new career or move 2 years, but will stay longer if I’m enjoying it and enhancing the business.

We improve as working individuals and start to climb the corporate ladder in our 30’s and 40’s, but does there come a time when we start to lose our creativity and the well starts to run dry? Do we step back a little and look to the next wave of high achievers to come up with the fresh ideas that we can help execute and bring to fruition?

I think there’s some truth to it, but conversely there are plenty of people making huge contributions well into their 6th decade of working, and a good proportion of them are at the very top of their profession, and their company.

The body may weaken over time, but the mind, the experience, and the ability to delegate the heavy lifting – literally and figuratively – to others goes the other way. As long as we have the mental energy and the curious mind to go with it.