“As you get older, there is no more time to be careful, and no more REASON to be careful. If you’re not dead, you’re not done.”
So says the 73-year old mum of NY Times best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert; lamenting that from 50-60 her peers began shutting down, making their lives smaller, and their minds smaller, in a post she shared on Facebook. I urge you to read it.
I’m proud to share with you Elizabeth, and your mum: My dreams aren’t shrinking just because I have hit the 50s.
I remember sitting at a lunch with an ex colleague in Sydney just over 12 months ago talking about letting go of my successful corporate career because I was bored, under-challenged and wanted better for myself, when she gave me this advice: “Don’t be stupid and risk it all. Sit it out for another 10 years, collect the fat pay cheque.”
Phew!…I know it was heartfelt concern for my wellbeing and best interests. It makes perfect financial sense, especially since I had to rebuild EVERYTHING at the age of 39 when I divorced and had to single-handedly raise two small children. But I’ve done OK, and in my value system, money is just one ingredient that makes a life whole. So ironically, that was THE EXACT TRIGGER that absolutely sealed it for me….NEVER could I let my courage, creativity and spirit go to hell on auto-pilot for the sake of financial security.
I used to work under the title “Catalyst for magic” – because I believe in the infinite capacity of human beings to create magic, something machines or computers cannot do. And to me, the biggest waste in this world is the waste of human potential.
So how could I waste my own?
So here I am: I closed that chapter of my corporate career ( in a planned and thoughtful manner without burning bridges and with a succession plan in place), sold my house, and on 1 February, took a bold leap and moved to make a brand-new start of it in old New York – a life-long goal to work in the city that never sleeps and climb to the top of the heap!
And whilst at this exact moment things are still fluid and wobbly as I try and attach myself to something that I can grow onto, and I struggle with bouts of doubt and the occasional tears when I feel alone and overwhelmed by the complexity of renting an apartment, navigating visas or re-casting my 30 year career onto a single page for the 6 second attention span of recruiters, I have an unwaivering confidence that in the long run, a smart decision-maker, entrepreneur or co-creating collaborator will be excited about the experience, creativity, passion, energy and infinite potential I can offer, and an investment in me or with me will deliver returns in multiples, and everyone will win.
Most of all my soul.
And this in itself will be the greatest example I can leave for my daughters, because their careers will be a rollercoaster ride of always staying one step ahead of the robots!
Lack of engagement = lack of an entrepreneurial culture = lack of engagement
The world’s large traditional corporations are stagnant and paralysed by a lack of innovation and renewal. Management gurus scream how the “lack of engagement among employees is at epidemic levels” and costing millions in productivity and gazillions more in lost potential.
Talented, creative people are emotionally checked-out, their ideas unheard or ignored, their passion burnt, their experience a costly liability, their optimism traded for cynicism, or worse…indifference.
Because of the lack of internal innovation and rapid growth among large incumbent publicly listed companies, few can offer career pivots or stretch-opportunities for employees at any age, but its even rarer for those over the age of 45. So that means that for a further 22 years till you retire at age 67, the goals of this age group are stillborn if they remain at the same company – that’s an entire generation of waste!
What is worse is that the lack of engagement and movement among experienced workers has an exponential impact on young people. They can’t go anywhere if senior people ain’t going anywhere, and their “fresh eyes” and ideas quickly hit the wall of disengaged incumbents, and so the vicious cycle continues…
The reasons are admittedly complex, and the system is horribly broken, but as an individual, you have very little control over all of that. What you DO have control over is how you respond, how you re-invent yourself and the decisions you make about staying on and sipping the pink champagne at that Hotel California, or checking out while you can.
Just don’t believe you have no choices, and don’t allow yourself to become small. I suggest just flick to another channel – you might catch the hazy cosmic jive calling you, perhaps even a glimpse…there IS a starman waiting in the sky.
Don’t be afraid to blow your mind…
Image credits: Imgur, via http://brightside.me/article/100-best-photographs-without-photoshop-46555/?image=211805