Most people grow up with the wisdom passed on from generation to generation through their grandparents. However, I am unlike most people. Of my four grandparents, three of them passed away before I was born, while the remaining grandparent lived in another state. I sought mentorship at an extremely young age from older and wiser people in effort to fill the void of not having grandparents in my life.

One way I’d get tidbits of knowledge from the baby boomer generation is by making the awkward elevator silence interesting and engaging for myself. A typical breakdown of a 30-second elevator ride while working for NYS Department of Health would begin with me asking one simple question: “what do you wish you would have known at 25 that you know now?” The usual awkward silence would suddenly translate into a thoughtful meditative moment for someone else and a learning experience for myself. For what seemed to be an easy-going question, many people would use the full elevator ride to think of useful advice.

The responses I’d get varied and ranged from, “I would have finished my higher education training when I was younger, before having kids,” to “I would have learned how to be more financially responsible,” or “I would have invested money into my retirement at that age”. Each reply was unique and illuminated the need to pause and reflect in life.

In these moments of learning from others during an elevator ride, I gathered many great tips from people who could have been my grandparents. Suddenly an elevator ride for coffee turned into a retrospective opportunity for people who would not have otherwise taken a moment to revisit the goals of themselves at a different stage in life. All in all, there is value in the little things in life—from challenging yourself to have a brief conversation with an unfamiliar colleague to taking a moment to fuel your spiritual wellness tank and be reflective of your goals.