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[Hankyung Essay] How to Maintain Value Even as You Age

Young Bum Kwon, CEO & Founder of YoungLimWon Soft-Lab

[Hankyung Essay] How to maintain value even as you age

1st February 2024

The employment rate of people aged 65 or older in Korea (34.95%) is more than twice the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average (15%). It is number 1 in the world. This is positive in terms of expanding work opportunities for the elderly, but it is also bittersweet in terms of expanding the use of cheap labor after retirement. The reason your standing diminishes as you age is because your ability to create value diminishes.

Becoming ‘less valuable’ stems from two factors. Firstly, it is because your abilities gradually diverge from the requirements of reality, and secondly, it is because it becomes difficult to utilize your abilities as desired, even if you possess them. The decrease in value as you age is mainly due to the first factor. If you lack skills in your youth, you can develop them through dedication and effort. However, individuals with the ability but lack proficiency in utilizing it find it challenging to adapt, resulting in limited longevity regardless of their environment. The biggest difference between success and failure in life depends on whether you utilize your abilities well or not.

No matter how extensive your knowledge or abilities may be, they hold little value if left untapped or underutilized. Value does not solely derive from acquired qualifications. The amount of value is determined by how beneficial it is to others beyond oneself. In other words, the more applications my knowledge and talents have, the more valuable they become. Therefore, the key to adding value lies in identifying how one’s skills and talents can be effectively utilized, and actively applying them. This principle applies universally, including both individuals and corporate management. No matter how groundbreaking a product made using the latest technology may be, if there is little demand for it, the value of the company that created it will diminish. Conversely, even a seemingly insignificant product can gain value and generate significant revenue if it sells well.

Therefore, the fundamental solution to ‘how can I contribute valuable work that is widely utilized’ is to help society by aligning actions with the societal purpose in areas such as work, family, social gatherings, and community. You can create lasting value by wholeheartedly living in accordance with the purpose of your company’s existence while working, and in alignment with the purpose of your family’s existence at home. This is a way to maintain your unique value and not lose your place as you age.

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