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Age-defying Action

11 June, 2022

Hi.  Am I too old?  Am I old enough?

Over the last year, during Coaching 1:1s and at workshops, I expect to be asked the Age Question.

Those who ask the question – “will my age count against me (when applying for a job, or being interviewed)” – are usually of a ‘certain age’, let’s say, over 50 years old.

Others (younger), sit quietly, but let’s imagine for a moment what they could be thinking:  don’t they know that I think I’m not old enough?

Age-defying Action: Dame Whina Cooper sets out from Northland on her land march to Parliament, 1975

Of course, we cannot assume anything about why the age question is asked except perhaps this: that age scares people; that age renders people – particularly women – invisible in some societies or cultures (interestingly, not necessarily so in many indigenous cultures); that age is viewed as a blight, instead of as another life stage with its own exciting, unlimited possibilities.

This is the premise we must get back to if those of a ‘certain’ age are to continue to contribute passionately to the workforce, as well as support and make way for the 23-year old, or the 17 year-old to be the best they can be in the shortest time possible: age brings about even more options simply because age is knowledge and experience, and at any age we can remain open to possibilities.

We start by supporting and respecting ourselves first, and then each other.  By respecting I mean owning and celebrating our abilities, achievements, failures, skills, knowledge, experience, wisdom, work habits, learning techniques.  By being prepared to step out from under the invisibility cloak, to speak up, (or Lean In as Sheryl Sandberg would have us do), be seen and heard, and know the colour of our own parachute.  By taking on some of the traits of the millennials: to have faith in ourselves, to have courage, to be prepared to grow, learn, develop, have fun, recreate and create, screw up and succeed in vastly unequal measures, and to contribute to the greater good.

What also keeps us  away from the affliction of age limitations is knowing that our job is not yet done, that we have something more and something even greater to give to others.  When we stop believing we have something to contribute, we shrivel up.  Contribution and Growth are the keys to keeping our true essence shining; without Growth, we cease to evolve, and without Contribution of our talents, gifts and abilities, we shrink on the notional psychological wellbeing scale (check out Tony Robbins’ Human Needs Psychology model for more on this).

Just listen to the person who says, I wish I had time to do x,y,z; or, if I had my time again I would xyz; or, when I’ve got my degree/qualifications/experience that’s when I’ll do xyz.

Boring. Boring.  Boring.  If not now, then when?

So this is what I want to say: age is a three letter word, and needs no more attention than that.  The far better A word is Action.

It is about who you are, what motivates you, what you want to contribute, whether you have the interest and ability to continue to contribute and to grow, and how much you are willing to help others step up to be the best they can be.  Not to pass judgement based on your or anyone’s age, but to show you have the intention and passion in you to take Age-defying Action, and beware anyone who tries to stop you.

The alternative to age is not an alternative we can control, so let’s all embrace the age we are.

Claire Porima Coaching.