A while back I achieved the next level in my quest to gain a Dan grade, black belt to those that don’t know what that is, in one of the oldest martial arts called Ju-jitsu. I didn’t think my performance was good enough, that’s more down to me wanting to be perfect at whatever I do. But I persevered through it all and passed through to the next level and got to the next grade of 7th Kyu orange belt.
Leading up to it had been a little harder due to having to put that extra effort in. It was a struggle as I had been carrying the odd injury and missed a few classes through personal issues. So leading up to the grading there had been the odd day I would be particularly tired and sore from being thrown around by senior members of the club in my pursuit in that ever eluding goal.
The day after one particular painful training session, I was asked by someone why I was limping and looking so tired. I told them that I had been training the evening before and it had been quite a “physical” and hard session. He asked how old I was and when we realised we were of the same age (around the 50 year mark), he commented how he would never put himself through all that at our age and asked didn’t I think I was too old for that kind of physical activity.
It reminded me of someone else, again not so long ago making the comment that he was too old to do something new and he was around the mid-fifties stage. I asked him what he did for a living and he said he was an operations manager but had recently been in a trainer role for his company and was enjoying his new position. He said he would like to be a coach and help people change their behaviours for the better.
I asked him would he consider that now was actually a great time for him to look at learning something new. That now was a great time to take the opportunity to learn about coaching and that if he was to finish working in the role now he would have something to fall back on, that even after he retired it would give him something to focus on rather than the thought of not having anything to do. How awesome would it be for him to learn and achieve something new at his age?
He stopped and thought long and hard, then a smile crept across his face as the sound of my words started to sink in to his mind. The cogs had started turning as he processed the information that had been given to him. Then he nodded and agreed that it could be a great time to do something new, there was nothing he could think of that would be in his way to stop him other than his own thinking.
In contrast to both of these people, there was an older gentleman who was coming up to his retirement. Now he was so excited about being retired as he had so much planned he was more concerned he wouldn’t have enough time in the day to do what he wanted to do. He was going to learn a new language as his family lived abroad, he wanted to improve his skills on the guitar so was going to have lessons, he was a keen photographer and wanted to get out more to take more pictures. He had a number of other activities he planned on doing and was actually quite jealous of his wife as she had already retired and was enjoying her time free from working for a living.
It still amazes me the difference in people and their thinking. When we have the opportunity to learn we either shy away from it or we feel we are too old or not capable in one form or another. I have probably learnt more in the last five years than in the years between from when I left high school, until I started on my journey to learn and understand NLP and Coaching in the quest to be able to help people communicate better. This coupled with becoming a student of Ju-jitsu, having to learn a new style of martial art after being out of that arena for over fifteen years, has also been a new learning for me.
So what is next? Do I stop now and plod along with what I know? Do I stop training as the body gets older and more fragile? Do I sit back and relax until the day I start to reflect and think of what I did with my life?
Or do I continue to learn and build upon what I know now. As the saying goes, “we learn something new every day”, so why not capitalise on that and keep learning. I want to push myself more and in fact, I have this urge to learn more than I ever did when I was at school. I have a want to push my limits and improve as NLP has become my new passion. I want to be the best I can be and help as many people as I can.
But just as importantly I want that all important, Dan grade. That would be the icing on the cake and to do it at whatever age I am will make it all the more worthwhile.
So how old do you have to be before you quit? I say why on earth should you quit. Enjoy the journey and keep learning, keep pushing yourself to achieve more to be the best you can be.