Wisdom For Aging – Old is Good

Issue 3, Article 1

It was Final Four Games Weekend of January, 2010, the football weekend that is second only in my opinion to the Superbowl. Eight teams from all over the nation were fighting for the chance for one more week. Out of eight teams, every football fan is bound to a find a favorite. Next week, half of us would have hard feelings. This weekend, it was all football.

My husband searched the cable guide as soon as the games were announced, and planned his weekend accordingly. The absolute must-do’s were accomplished earlier in the week or during breaks in the game he cared about least. My friend’s husband even took the weekend off at work. I made sure football food was in the house: beef, beer, chicken enchiladas, chips, guacamole, and salsa. Even the TV commercials that weekend were pre-Superbowl quality!

But this year, a phenomenon was being played out on the fields besides a lot of great football. The oldest QB ever to compete in a playoff, Brett Favre, and another “old guy” QB, Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals, led their teams against younger quarterbacks with remarkable agility and strength. Warner’s team did not advance to the next weeks’ game, but Favre lead the Vikings to a 45-3 victory that was really fun to watch.

And that brings me to my point: “old” can be very, very good. And “old” in football is pretty young! Remember Joe Namath, the famed New York Jet who played his last season in 1977 with the then-LA Rams (Yeah, those were the days in LA!)? Broadway Joe was all of age 34 that year, which is considered an old man in football. Kurt Warner, the quarterback with “six kids and a minivan”, is 39 ½ this weekend, and Brett Favre turned 40 last October. Fran Tarkenton, the Viking hero of the 1970’s, led his team in three Superbowls, at ages 34, 35, and 37; but his birthday fell on the following weekend, virtually making him a year older in each game. These older athletes are only anomalies because they weren’t injured beyond repair (like Joe Namath’s knees).

Being “at the top of our game” is actually more common as we age than in our youth. Dara Torres, that 41-year-old Mom and Olympic swimmer who won two silver medals in Beijing, was on five U.S. Olympic Swim Teams, winning a medal each time. Her ability kept her on the team for 20 years (an amazing record!). Her leadership and experience, though, won her a Sportsmanship Award from the International Committee for Fair Play when she convinced Beijing meet officials to delay the start of the 50m freestyle to enable her competitor, Therese Alshammar of Sweden, to correct a swimsuit malfunction. Who does that? Usually, it’s people with maturity; and usually, maturity comes with age.

Look around you and notice the older people who are worthy of your admiration in your field of practice. The playing field you work on is as important as any NFL or Olympic sports venue. Having personally attended both NFL and Olympic games, it’s the cheering fans and the other team members who are really glad “the old guys” showed up. It’s not about age; it’s about attitude and aptitude for the tasks that lay ahead. “Old” is good when it brings along with it wisdom, integrity, good humor, confidence and a willingness to roll up one’s sleeves. When people with experience and the leadership skills to help your team achieve whatever goal you have before you, age has little to do with it; it’s the win that counts, and on Final Four Weekend, 2010, The Olds Guys were very, very good!

© 2010 Diane Alexander Patterson, MSG, CPG “If good real estate is about location, location, location, then ‘success in aging’ is about attitude, attitude, attitude!”