Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old Dogs and New Tricks

After just returning from a weekend where I was able to tick another goal off of the before I die list, it's important to share and remind people how it feels to do something new. Something meaningful and new.

I have been watching NFL football for 20 years. To go see my first game, with 69,000 new friends, was outstanding. While some people have been to many games (that was my wife's 13th NFL experience), others will never care to see one, and that's okay.

What is not okay, however, is to take yourself out of the game to sit on the sidelines and watch others play before your time. I don't know when my time is, and neither do you. While I may not have as much stubborn relentlessness as I did as a misguided teenager playing football and thinking the world was mine for the taking... I have learned to harness a little more focus and some valuable experience along the way.

This has made me realize that there are some stages we go through in life, some great, some unfortunate and forthcoming if we're not careful.

1. The wide-eyed youth. This can be literally a youth who is excited about the notion of possibility, or it can be us at any age when we have our eyes opened to new sports, career potentials, and other new possibilities.
2. The sophomore. Still lots to learn and we're probably quiet around upperclassmen, but around freshman we're eager to dish out all the advice we've earned in our first year university/ 1st running race/ 1st year of business/ etc. We're hungry to learn but scared to show our perceived inexperience.
3. "The vet". The senior in college, the years-experienced manager, the couple who's been married for 5 years talking to newlyweds, etc. Here is where a relative wealth of experience has the potential to close our minds and make us think we know more than we do. After repeated success with our own proven theories, we begin the think they are more universal and time-tested than might actually be the case.
4. The old dog. The grandparent or retiree, the coach or business owner. Someone who has been at it a lifetime it seems who is resistant to learn and just wants to get to the point quickly because they've "seen and done it all before"
5. The new old dog. This is the kind of person I aspire to be. I know that when I'm 75 I may have to scale down my physical goals compared to what they are now. I may have more of a philanthropic and social/ family focus and less of a business one. But to me a 'new old dog' is someone who could probably teach their peers as much or more than anyone around them, yet is still the most willing to learn, and often the last to speak.

Learning and challenging ourselves are supposed to be lifelong engagements. While the content and focus of these new experience may change shape over time, when they stop altogether- at least in my humble opinion- is the day we truly begin to age.

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