The other day I was hanging out with my 4 year old niece when she showed me the new skills she learned at gymnastics class. Like a fillet of kid containing no bones, she did her best Simon Biles imitation, lying on her stomach, arching her back, and touching her pointed toes to her head.
“Come on Uncle Rich, do it.”
Having been wrapped around her finger since she was born, I gave it a try. While the distance between my head and toes was roughly equivalent to the distance between the earth and moon, being the wonderful, encouraging little girl that she is, I heard,
“Good job Uncle Rich!”
The next 4 days after attempting to stretch into this position more deeply, my lower back was in intense pain. My muscles screamed at me, reminding me that I was not 4 years old.
This got me thinking about my age, my inabilities – or more appropriately – the abilities I am losing, and how to grow old gracefully. I realized there were two critical elements to growing old gracefully – acceptance and knowing your limits.
Apparently, I suck at both!
Physically, we must accept that what our bodies could do when we were 20 years old, they no longer can do well, if at all, at 50 years old. Interestingly, there is one area of our being where these limits do not apply . . . our thinking.
It has been scientifically proven that our brains have a quality known as plasticity. That means that we have the ability to continually, and forever, form new neural pathways, which essentially means we can ALWAYS learn new things! Always.
The cliche stating “You can’t teach and old dog new tricks” is horribly wrong. And there is plenty of evidence against it.
- George Washington was 44 years old when he made his epic crossing of the Delaware River and turned the fortunes of the Revolutionary War.
- Ray Kroc was 52 years old when he bought McDonald’s and transformed it into the world’s biggest fast food franchise.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 years old when she published the first of her Little House series.
- John Glenn was 77 years old when he became the oldest human to go into space.
- Mary Baker Eddy was 87 years old when she founded the Christian Science Monitor.
- Nola Ochs was 95 when she became the oldest person to receive a college diploma.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg! There are an untold number of people who achieved great things as they grew older.
If you ask me, that is the true definition of aging gracefully. Someone who does not define themselves by their age or their body’s ability, but rather rather by the unlimited possibility held within their minds and their hearts.
You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.
If the above quote referenced “new technology” rather than “new ideas”, sadly, I would have to admit that I am starting to show my age. However, in the domain of new ideas I am very, very young! In fact, I would be so bold as to say that when it comes to new ideas, I have the mind of a child . . . one where all possibilities exist.
In fact, when it comes to new ideas, modelling children is the way to go. Their curiosity, inquisitiveness, desire to understand and freedom from limitations allows them to create an infinite amount of possibilities. Their “land of make believe” is a perfect place to exist when trying to solve a problem. Not all the ideas will be viable, of course, but the quantity of new ideas will be astounding!
READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.