So, a couple of months ago, I had lunch with my buddy Bill Day and as we munched away on our burritos, he asked me,” Pat- how long do you think you are going to work?” It kind of took me back a bit and as I struggled for a response, Bill told me that he intends to keep working as long as he can. He may slow down a little bit when his boys enter the business in a few years, but for the moment, he likes his business and the challenge it offers. Bill is one of those guys who wears a t-shirt, running shoes and shorts, no matter what the temperature is and looks like the picture of health for a guy in his 60s. I thought about his question and remarked that I had to think about my son in school, health care, etc. but as long as I was contributing, I have no problem working. We are in similar circumstances but I work for a large company and Bill has his own very successful small business. We both agreed that we need to be relevant and making a contribution in order to continue.
So what does it mean to be relevant? In my mind, it is raising your hand and volunteering for new projects at work. It is providing guidance to younger employees. It is problem solving using experience gained over many years of employment. It is continuing to provide value even though you are not one of the younger ones anymore, in fact, in my circumstances, I am one of the older ones in our company. But “relevant” is a mindset and both Bill and I agreed. If you can stay healthy, provide value, and want to continue, age really has nothing to do with it. It also has to do with challenging yourself. There is a great blog out there called jen-agan.squarespace.com where it is said that,” truth of character and purpose comes to light when we find ourselves soaring outside our comfort zone.” Sometimes, when we think about the road ahead, we must continually challenge ourselves in order to provide value and be……relevant. I have a lot of friends who have retired. They travel, they volunteer, they provide value in their own right but they also enjoy life. I want to do the same thing, but for the time being, it is associated with my work environment.
Aside from the challenges in the work place, what can help you with providing value? I have always been a proponent of strong body assists strong minds. Exercise and activities support good mental health as well as physical well being. I have a group of contemporaries that enjoy skiing and mountain biking. We all challenge each other and love the sport, atmosphere, and history of these pursuits. We look forward to getting together each week and on vacations enjoying the slopes and the trails. We hold each other accountable and the activities support our work ethic because we have the energy to continue to provide value to each other via our activities, but also provide value in the workplace.
One of the byproducts of being “relevant” is that you have the chance to test that with younger employees and also younger folks who ski and ride. I ride mountain bikes with a group on Thursday nights during the year who are in good shape and are considerably younger than me. Oftentimes, I am the oldest one by 30 years unless some of my contemporaries show up. But the interesting thing is that I learn from this group. I hear what they like in music, entertainment, politics, and listen to their workplace challenges and when they seek counsel or opinion from the old guy, I feel relevant in that I can respond to them without sounding like a parent or a boss. I am their friend and confidant even though our demographics are somewhat far apart. I can have a beer with them after the ride and we all enjoy the stories of the trail that night. At the same time, I know my place, and would not enter their world on a weekend or week vacation with their peers. I am not one of them. But in the environment of the ride, I am, and we enjoy each other’s company.
So, I guess the bottom line here is age should not dictate whether one is relevant or not but rather mindset and enthusiasm. I like my job and I like my hobbies. I would like to continue to pursue them and stray outside the comfort zone from time to time to test myself. We live in a rapid paced world with social media, continual advertising assaults, main stream media, challenges in the workplace, health and financial challenges, and the list goes on. But with the right attitude and the ability to learn from the younger set, baby boomers like Bill and me can still provide value, learn, and be……for lack of a better word……….relevant. Be kind in 2017 and thanks for reading.
Pat, as usual, great stuff!
Apropos of the theme of your discussion this morning, I was reminded of a quote that I’ve decided will guide me into the future, as best I can allow it to do so.
You probably remember that there was an African-American major league baseball pitcher by the name Satchel Paige who labored in the Negro leagues for years and years until he was finally able to get a contract in the majors and at that time, by baseball standards, he was nothing short of elderly. He pitched successfully for a few years but very shortly after reaching the major leagues (finally) he was being interviewed by some sort of reporter who asked Satchel what it was like to pitch in the major leagues at such an elderly age and asked Satchelâs comments generally on aging and its effect on his chosen profession. He responded in a way that I hope will guide me into the future. He looked at the reporter and he said “how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was”?
The first few times I heard that quote I wasn’t really sure what it meantâ¦â¦. but now that I’m older I think I appreciate exactly what he meant. As a result, I’ve decided to ignore my numeric age and be guided by how I feel. And if I continue to feel well, continue to want to be active and continue to be enthusiastic about the things that I am lucky enough to pursue, I will let my attitude determine my age.
That said, I’m not sure that I try Corbetts right now, but I still want to ski fast and play hard.
Have a great day and thanks for the columns!
Paul Vey, Esquire
Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP
One Oxford Centre, 38th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
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Great read Pat. Wisdom and experience will always be relevant even if it’s a “back in my day” piece of advice, it’s important to know what once was in order to either appreciate or change what is or could be.
On Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 11:13 AM, chroniclesofmccloskey wrote:
> patmccloskey posted: ” So, a couple of months ago, I had lunch with my > buddy Bill Day and as we munched away on our burritos, he asked me,” Pat- > how long do you think you are going to work?” It kind of took me back a bit > and as I struggled for a response, Bill told me that” >
Well said Pat. I suspect your co-workers appreciate/enjoy working with/for you. Please keep missing those trees as you pursue your hobbies. “Back in the day” and current observations continue to be relevant, and (sometimes) appreciated by others. That’s what matters.
Good read and very true. I am subbing today in Special Ed. at Little Ele. and it is going good with these kids with major issues. But, the bluebird day I had on Tuesday makes me feel whole, energized and able to carry on in this messed up world, as you would guess. Physical equals mental stamina in an ever changing society. Like you said, age, is just a number.
Hope we can get together in one of these many moons! Take care, bro.
pat as always very insightful . At this point in my life age is a number only . every day I am very blessed to relevant in my work ,and thankful to be out doing everthing I can do ,crossing off stuff on my bucket list that at one time I thought I would not get to do . In that light I am grateful to a lot of people ,for the ride has been so much better because of all of you !