I'm too old.
Excuse #2018: I'm too old.
Did you hear that the new CFO of Heinz (100 billion market cap) is 29 years old. Good for him! Maybe he’ll make Forbes' 30 under 30, which recognizes the brightest and most innovative young minds, while leaving the rest of us to wonder if we’re entering the inevitable decline into our uncelebrated graves.
Even Albert Einstein once said, “A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so.”
Holy ageism, Einstein!
Our culture’s worship of the fountain of youth has only served to add “I’m too old.” to the laundry list of go-to excuses we use when we’re afraid to follow our dreams. But before you throw in the towel and succumb to the biddings of your amygdala, understand this:
There are two radically different mindsets at work behind innovation and these differences explain why some innovators peak early and others bloom late.
Adam Grant has spent his career studying the origins of innovation. In Originals, Grant argues that the time it takes to reach our height of originality, and how long it lasts, depends on our style of thinking and there are two distinctively different styles–conceptual and experimental.
conceptual innovators – the sprinters
Conceptual innovators are our young geniuses. They form big ideas early. And, without exposure to decades of experience, make their most important contribution quickly, becoming less original as conventional thinking takes root.
experimental innovators – the marathoners
Conversely, experimental innovators arrive at solutions through trial and error, learning and evolving as they go along. And, as they age and accumulate expertise, experimental innovators have more potential for lasting originality, like:
- Frank Lloyd Wright, who finished designing Fallingwater at sixty-eight;
- Leonardo da Vinci, who started the Mona Lisa in his fifties;
- and Alfred Hitchcock, who made his three most popular films in his early sixties.
“I’m too old” is a lame excuse to stay stuck. And I’ve heard it from someone young as 24 years old!
Do you have a project that you care about deeply? Are you breathing?
You rock. Let it be known.