Point of View: Passages


Point of View: Passages

It is difficult to realize that as people age, their abilities in certain areas change. A friend pointed out that when running the Boston Marathon, to qualify at age 30 one has to run at a certain time, but at age 60, it is a different (longer) time. Those in charge of setting those times understand that someone at age 30 has different physical abilities than someone at age 60. It’s just life.


Your ability to ‘bounce back’ after an illness changes. When you are 40 or 50, a cold or the flu can be simply a ‘pain,’ whereas when you approach your 80th decade, it can be debilitating, or dare I say it, even fatal. 


I have been very fortunate in the illness department. Throughout most of my life I simply haven’t been sick or when I have it has been relatively minor. For the first 70 years of my life, I had been in the hospital once, and that was for elective surgery. I bounced back quickly. This past year has been a series of sickness, hospitalizations, and doctors. The only difference I can see is that I have begun to age.


There’s more. It has to do with one’s mental acuity. You think you are ‘on top’ of it, but are you really? When you are in a conversation, do you react as quickly as you did say even a few years ago? Are all those great ideas you came up with then merely memories now. Even when you come up with that idea, do you really want to invest the time and treasure to make it happen? Or do you file it away and ponder?


A friend of mine told me the other day that people don’t want to buy from him because he’s old. I thought about it and realized that age wasn’t the reason. It was that he wasn’t growing with the times. He wasn’t changing, considering, and adjusting. 


Back in “the day” we came up with ideas. We didn’t fear them; we did them. If more than half of them succeeded, we were a success. We didn’t care about failure; we knew that we had time to make it right and succeed. I wonder if that time isn’t running out. We become more cautious, tentative, and frankly, we place many of those great ideas on hold. The very things that made us a success are now being reevaluated in our minds. We do the same thing over and over, because it’s easy. It worked before; why change it? We become stale.


Many companies force retirement at 65 for just the reasons I have listed above. Frankly, it makes some sense. But are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater? There is some truth in ‘the wisdom of age.’ However, there is also need for the recklessness of youth. Sure, turn over the reins, but stick around and offer counsel when needed. That doesn’t mean that that counsel must be followed, but “we tried that in ‘75 and this is what happened” can be helpful.


All of that having been said, the young moving into the workforce have a wonderous time ahead of them. It’s a time of creativity, a time of success, a time of hard work, yes, and a time of possible failure. My advice is never consider failure as an option. Churchill said, “when you are going through hell, keep going.” We are taught that when you begin a company, you need an ‘exit strategy.’ I’m sure that’s a good course at a business school. To me, an ‘exit strategy’ is an assumption that the business you are creating isn’t a labor of love, but a stop along the way. If you aren’t happy with what you are doing, change. But if you are, make it your vocation. Enjoy every minute. 


All this doesn’t mean that it is easy. But to ensure that the legacy you have built over nearly 30 years is carried on, you must be open to change. I have always believed that all change is good. Let’s give it the test.


If there is any advice I can give it’s concerning the passing scene. “Look out the window.” Rather than listen to CNN or the New York Times, simply believe your eyes. 


If you are concerned about bike lanes, look at the bike lanes near you and see just how many bikes are using them. In my case, zero, zip. 


If you wonder just how EV charging stations will be used, take a look at the stations that are installed now and just how many are being used. Compare that to the local gas station.


How about scooters? Just how many do you see in use on a daily basis? Likewise with bikes from the city supplied bike rental stations.


Is parking “back?” Take a look at the parking surface lots and the structures adjacent to shopping malls or office buildings. Are they empty, full, or whatever?


If you are concerned about the weather, look out the window. I guarantee you will instantly know what the weather is, and most likely what it is going to be.


Be aware of the world around you. You will lead a much happier life.

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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