Last week I had a birthday, 60. Never in my youngster 20s did I ever imagine myself at this age being the way I am today. This age is different now than at any time in human history: more capable, more mobile, more engaged. But it is not 40.
Never Stop Learning
We tend to think of the teenage and early adult years as the those of learning and skill building, and they are. But so is now. I have been layering on and building up skill sets that even a year ago would have been inconceivable. I gave 6 major international talks this year; before I had never spoken in front of more than 3 or 4 people at a time. Yes, it is scary in the beginning, but now it’s the most fun thing I do. Add to this skills in Excel, media planning, staff management, social media, human biology, and many more. I am learning at a rate not experienced since college. This is possible, and it’s hard. Keep in mind, I am not a particularly gifted human; anyone can do this if they set their mind to it.
Physical fitness personal bests can be expanded. In the last 12 months I have increased my lifts by almost 30 percent. Should the need arise, I can pick up some seriously heavy objects. At the same time, I have seen my recovery time increase, and my running times decline. I used to have 5 gears for running, now its maybe 2.5. No matter how much I will myself, the speed is just not there.
At 40, I was not able to speak with or relate to people as I can now. The loud voices in my head that kept me separated from others are diminished and I can be much more present. My guess is that this will increase with more time.
Not Wise Yet
This is a tricky one, as 20 years more life adds knowledge to the hard drive, and I’m certainly better for it, but am I wise? Maybe, but I recoil at the word as it seems I am constantly making mistakes and needing to learn more. Even in photography, which I am highly skilled at, there is so much more to learn and improve upon. Maybe this is what wisdom is: the self-knowledge to understand how little we know. All I am sure of is that when someone tells me I am wise, I feel the need to dispute it.
Scale of Ambition Expands
This one surprised me more than anything else. At 40 I was interested in making money, skiing, travel and nice cars. Nothing wrong with any of that, but limited in its scope. Now we are building a global movement and a global media company with the intention of having an impact on the global culture. Much much larger scope. I’ve done dozens of magazine covers, hundreds and hundreds of photography assignments at the very highest levels which was fun, but what did it change? What we are doing now at AGEIST was beyond my wildest imagination at 40. As my friend and mentor Kelly Cooper reminded me: “Whatever you are thinking, you are not thinking big enough.” Go big, why not?