As I approach my 62nd birthday, I’m reminded of one of my favorite pep quotes from my great buddy, Peter Thomas:
“Don’t let the Old Man in.”
The lesson of course applies to women, too. Obviously, men and women both get old, but the image of the cantankerous, curmudgeonly “Old Man” is the one that brings to mind all the habits we have to be sure to keep from taking root as our birthdays pile up.
To keep the Old Man out, you reject the notion that you should stop giving, stop doing, stop learning, stop growing, and stop moving.
What are some habits I emphasize in the place of the Old Man’s habits?
Habits that help me live according to my values to build a meaningful and joyous life motivated to do what I love and love what I do, excited to meet each day feeling the energy in my enthusiasm for new opportunities and current ones, loving my life and all the people in it.
To this the Old Man yawns and says, “Sounds like work.”
That’s why he’s not invited to the party. He wouldn’t like it anyway.
Now, all of this doesn’t mean you deny the valuable reality of improving and gaining experience over time and maturing and mastering things with practice. One of my highest values is to always be learning and growing. It mixes well with “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”
I love approaching life with the excitement of being open to new ideas and lessons. And the greater awareness I’ve gained over time is priceless to bring to these new experiences, as is the wisdom to reflect more deeply, and with greater humility, to learn more from each day and what it brings.
When I think about what’s needed to be a successful, happy person, this appreciation for learning and growing, along with the understanding that the capacity to learn and grow only improves over time, is certainly high on my list.
You should know that the Old Man has no sway when you feel good.
I feel great because I invest time and money to keep myself looking and feeling healthy and physically fit. Also, I love hanging out with my children (all adults) and my grandkids. In fact, I have many 20-, 30-, 40- and 50-year-olds in my life. It’s great to see their energy and desire to achieve. It inspires, motivates, and invigorates me. It’ll do that for anyone.
The Old Man also wants to come in and sit down at the conference table. Don’t let him in there.
I truly love my businesses because of the freedom they create for me. They enable me to seek new levels of success and create opportunities for the people on our teams.
I keep the Old Man out of the way here by not being selfish with opportunities.
What I know and value, and the Old Man doesn’t, is the profound pleasure and satisfaction I get from helping the people in my life and seeing them accomplish great things and create wonderful lives of their own.
I have many stories of younger people receiving a call from a parent or older boss with a look of condescension or even disgust on their face. I think it’s so sad to see this kind of frustration. I know I don’t want to call people and make them look at their phone and say, “Oh yuck, it’s Old Man La Rue!”
It’s wonderful and important to create more smiles than frowns. So, lastly, one of the biggest reasons why we Don’t Let the Old Man In is that he is too busy preparing to leave the world to care how he makes other people feel.
On that note, one of the key life-lessons I’ve learned and hope to teach to everyone seeking the magic formula to an amazing life is:
“I didn’t come this far to only go this far.”
We don’t live our lives to get to a certain point… and then just stop.
Life continues on, offering new lessons and opportunities to grow each day. We can choose to keep moving in it, learning and growing, even though the Old Man would rather stop.
I think the central lie the Old Man believes is that, once we reach a certain point in life, we should, for some unexplained reason, stop and make a hard choice: keep on living, or take the time we have left to get ready to leave this world.
Here’s what we can tell the Old Man: there’s no choice to make there.
A life lived in accordance with your most deeply felt values is a life that requires no additional effort to prepare to leave.
A life lived this way sees reflection and gathering meaning as an active part of life, not a passive one. We don’t stop living to decide whether our lives have been good ones or bad ones, we don’t stop to gather our regrets, and we don’t stop paying attention to the present to prepare the case for our ultimate defense.
Instead, we keep on living lives that aim to bring us and our loved ones and the people around us peace and joy and happiness and meaning, and it ends when it ends.
And because of how we live our lives, they will end always in the middle of something.
We who live this way will leave this world interrupted.
Interrupted in the work and play of living our lives, having made no undue preparation for what needs none.
I want to thank all of you who are a part of the work and play of my life. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to spend time together with you, learn and grow together, build businesses together, and create opportunities. I hope we will continue to be a part of each other’s stories, and I hope you will remind me, if you ever think I need the reminder, “Don’t let the Old Man In!” I’ll do the same for you.