Question: How does a vital man in his 60’s stay relevant in a world that cherishes youth?
Answer: One reality check is to admit that aging is a fact of life, but relevance is not. We have to find ways to exhort our friends and colleagues to stop whining. We should surround ourselves with people who believe they can make a difference. More than anything, we need to change our attitudes and alter our cynicism: we may not have reached the pinnacle of success that we once aspired, but we don’t have to take the exit ramp from work life. We have a lot that we can still contribute, if we find the right ways to do it.
No matter how hard or how long we work at this point in our lives, the younger youths can likely run circles around us. But so what? Life is not a sprint down a straight track. It is a steeplechase and the contribution can come from hurdling water, dodging cleats, getting dirty, and maintaining endurance. Now is the time to be versatile and to learn to be more effective than our younger compatriots.
One Strategy: RETOOL
Go back to school and get that degree you were always to busy to get at night or online. Law, Business, Teaching, Writing, whatever it is. I started a masters in teaching last year and my friends said, “Henry, you will be 61 when you finish the masters!” Copying a line I heard from my mother-in-law, who returned to school at 45, I replied, “Well, I am going to be 61 anyway, I might as well be 61 and with my degree.”
The next challenge is to prove my worth to the principals and school heads, who are flooded with 20-something applicants for the plum jobs at their schools. I bring years of business success, refined opinions, a fresh perspectives, a wisdom from life’s experiences. Thus far the receptiveness has been luke warm, but I am confident that the perfect school fit will show up. Besides, we bring gravitas to the situation and the seriousness to the classroom that our younger colleagues may take years to master.