“Happy 2018 you magnificent Grand Final winning bastards. Pre season is almost upon us and need to know who is saddling up again for 2018”.
This is the text sent to me by the captain of the mighty Newport Rugby Club 3rd team. I am 53 in February. By any measure, that’s old to be playing rugby. It’s easy to give in to a prevailing narrative - “time to hang up your boots”, “most of those blokes could be your son”, “Mate, you’ll be the slowest bloke on the park”
. In truth I was tempted to say, “No”
. But I let it sit and I pondered. You see, it’s not about rugby really. It’s about the stories we are telling ourselves about where we think we are in the journey of life.
Influence requires energy
I recently explored why Influence begins with Self-leadership
. Stepping up to take control of our career, prosperity and happiness by building our influence takes vitality. We’ve got to do everything we can to energise ourself for a journey that’s more a marathon than a sprint. Crucial to that is to think, feel and live at the most energetic level we can. We need to have an optimistic view and look forward to future achievements.
We talk ourselves down
I meet so many people who put themselves down. Their self-talk is that they are too old, past it, unable to change. I recently met a guy my age who was out of condition and out of sorts. He told me about the many sporting activities and community groups he had actively participated in only a few years ago. But, one-by-one, he’d let them go. Biologically, not much had changed. But between the ears - EVERYTHING was different. His “I used to”
self-talk has him sitting on the sidelines of life, when he could still be kicking goals.
By contrast, I have a client in her 60s who’s into weightlifting. She has multiple goals for this year, not least to push her ‘clean and jerk' personal best. Likewise, I recently completed a 200km surfboat marathon
. There were 8 of us in the crew. At 52, I was the young bloke - the rest in their late 50s and early 60s. We weren’t in it to win (in fact we scored the award for ‘longest time on the water!’), but each of us had a mindset that we were up for the challenge - and of course we’ll be going back. It’s not about the age, the ability or the result. It’s about developing the mindset that says, “I’m still in the f’kin race.”
The science is in
This is more than a feeling. Numerous research studies demonstrate that when we think and act younger, we actually slow or even reverse the ageing process. Making sure we surround ourselves with the things and people who help us be our best is important. How we dress, the music we listen to, where we hang out - all can be key to getting or keeping us in the groove of optimism and possibility.
It’s never too late to change the story
The good news is that we can rediscover our inner child at any time. We simply need to challenge any limiting self-belief and take the decision to act. That may be going for the first jog in years, joining a swimming squad, or volunteering for a community group. Whilst physicality is an obvious way we can regain our mojo, it’s not the only one. This is not about a search for long-lost glory days, or an ego trip. It’s about re-booting our mindset to embrace the enormous potential that we all have to ‘do’ and ‘be’ great - whether we are 35 or 85. There’s a time when our bodies and minds really can’t continue - but we sell ourselves short if, like many, we give up too soon.
No arms, no legs, no problem
So put away the casual slacks. Get a decent haircut. Tell yourself you look fabulous. Jump back on whatever horse you used to ride, or find a new one. Get off your arse and have a go.
Consign the script of excuses in your head to ‘Trash’. Need any help doing that? Check out Nick Vujicic
. Born with no arms or legs, he’s made more impact on this planet than most of us could even dream of. Nick had every excuse in the world to give up, yet has become a global influencer.
I’m going again
So I am saying “Yes”
to the call to arms from my rugby mates. Yes to another season of slow, flawed, old-man rugby. Yes, because I can - and there will be a day when I really can’t.
It’s my way of telling myself that I’m up for the challenge of making the next 10 years my best ever - in all aspects of life. Whatever game you are playing, you’re a long time retired and a long time dead.
What will you do?