This past weekend, I attended #HRevolution in Grapevine, TX. Being somewhat of an introvert, this was a good stretch assignment for me (assigned by me) in my continuing efforts to learn more about “What’s Next?” in Human Resources. Great group of highly intelligent and passionate people choosing to spend their Saturday afternoon debating the various components of recruiting, social media, branding, big data – it’s a scene man.

But something about the experience felt strangely familiar to me. It took me a few days to figure out the nagging feeling I was trying to define, and then it hit me – I have been here before; HR is going through a mid-life crisis.

If you use the creation of the AAI (now HRCI) as the official birthday of the modern version of HR, then we sit at the ripe old age of 40. If you haven’t seen the number 40 on your birthday cake, trust me, it’s more than “just a number.”

It’s a watershed moment in your life, and quite possibly the first time you’ve stopped to take inventory of who you are, where you are, and how you feel about yourself. And it’s not always pretty.

You know what that means? Ridiculous t-shirts by Affliction and Ed Hardy, a new car we can’t afford, and a general over-reaction to our newly discovered mortality. Instead of focusing on the truly important things in life, we start looking at our neighbor’s Harley. Our goals change as we become dis-satisfied and unhappy with our lot in life, and we want change. Our definition of success is re-defined; we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see.

Or, if you’re a man, you simply seek ways to feel cool and relevant rather than a boring middle-age dude. How else do you explain the number of Corvette convertibles with vanity plates?

I see some of that in the HR community right now…we are, in many respects, trying to out-clever ourselves. We want new, exciting, strategic, sexy things, even at the expense of losing touch with reality for a while. We want to be edgy and innovative, even “disruptive” but it can come off as a plea for attention.

This is not an indictment of anyone in particular; I fully accept my own proclivity for chasing the shiny object rather than investing in an IRA. This is a reminder, maybe only to myself, to remember what got us here in the first place. We are a service function for the people in the organization, and we’re damn good at it. Whether or not we’re recognized as being cool shouldn’t really matter.

Let’s don’t let our obsession with a strategic vision compromise the foundation we’ve worked so hard to build. We don’t need change for the sake of change, proceed with caution.

And for the love of God, stay away from skinny jeans.