You’re Too Young – Now You’re Too Old

Richard Shrapnel's 'You’re Too Young – Now You’re Too Old'.

When you are young, they say you are too inexperienced to lead and be successful. When you are old, they say you are just ‘past it’, and not in touch with the modern world to achieve anything. And at both ends of this spectrum, and in between, they are just wrong. Success has nothing to do with age.


Active Knowledge Question:

In building your business, how do you see past the bias that some cultures engender around age, and select people for who they are?


It’s Never About Age

Age is used by many to define who someone is and what their capability and capacity may or may not be. It’s applied at both ends of the spectrum, young and old, and probably in between at times. It’s a bias, and with all bias often operates below the surface at the subconscious level and is rationalised as ‘best decision-making’. However, it reflects poor decision-making and lost opportunity.

Allow me to borrow eight examples from a book titled ‘Edgy Conversations’, by Dan Waldschmidt, where he cites age relative to success:

  • ‘At 2, speed skater Bonnie Blair began skating. She would go on to win five Olympic gold medals.
  • At 16, American sharpshooter Annie Oakley challenged and defeated the well-known marksman Frank Butler by hitting a dime in mid-air from 90 feet.
  • At 24, Ted Turner took over his father’s billboard advertising business. He later launched cable news network CNN.
  • At 49, Julian Child published her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
  • At 58, Sony chairman Akio Morita introduced the Sony Walkman, an idea no one seemed to like at the time.
  • At 62, J.R.R. Tolkien published the first volume of his fantasy series, Lord of the Rings.
  • At 79, Asa Long became the oldest U.S. checkers champion.
  • At 96, Harry Bernstein published his first book,The Invisible Wall, three years after he started writing to cope with the loneliness after his wife of 70 years Ruby, passed away.’

Dan cites a lot more examples in his book which encourages anyone to pursue outrageous success.

Age is never a barrier to your ability to achieve unless you allow it to be. People of all ages achieve extraordinary success, and in many cases just simple success. As an individual, and as a business leader, you should never allow generalisations about age to restrict your business’s or your individual success.

Your business’s success is dependent upon the combined talent and effort of everyone working within and with it. And therefore, you want the best working with the best at their best, irrelevant of their age. You want them for who they are and not how long they have been on this earth.


But It Is About Attitude

When it comes to being an achiever and being successful, attitude is the starting point. In fact, attitude is everything.

Attitude is how you view yourself and the world around you. It is a reflection of your self-image – the picture created in your subconscious that influences your entire world and all that happens in it.

Put simply, if your head is not in the right place, there is no way you will be able to be successful and enjoy it. You will continuously pull yourself down every time you recognise that you are about it to make it. If you think you are too young or too old, then you will be.

What success looks like, what it means to you, where to look for success, and how you acknowledge it, are all critical to building a life of enduring success. They are all reflective of your attitude to life and to success.

Here are a few key points:

  • Success has absolutely nothing to do with what others think of you or measuring your achievements against theirs.
  • Success is about your talents, your preferences and what outcomes you really want to achieve in your life.
  • Never chase others, it’s a game you will never win.
  • Wealth, power and position are all just some of the outcomes that a successful life may yield but do not reflect success. They are measures society has historically like to use to identify successful people, but they are very limiting.
  • Success is about being your best not being better than others. Every one of us is unique, and you will need to identify and invest in pursuits where your talents and interests lie.

One of my earlier articles, Success Is The Fuel Of Life, expands on these points.


Finding Your Success

Success is the fuel of life.  It energises and enlivens us. Without success, our lives can become dull and then dead. Without success as a catalyst in our lives, we will not and cannot reach our potential. Striving for success is an enabler. It draws our best to the surface and allows us to see what we are really capable of achieving.

Success comes from within. Only we can make ourselves successful through our beliefs, thoughts and actions. Success cannot be given to you by others.

Success is a renewable resource. We can generate it every moment of every day and can bring an abundance to our lives we never thought possible. It is our prize to be claimed but it does not come through chance. It is earned through hard work. It is the reward for the thought and effort you put in.

There are attributes, traits if you like, that will strengthen and underpin your ability to be successful. And you must focus on seeding, nurturing and growing these traits in yourself. Have a read of Conditioning Yourself To Succeed if you would like to explore this aspect of success further.

In what areas you want to achieve in your life is in your hands. If you don’t have a clear sense of where your strengths and passions lie, then it can be hard to strike out on the road of enduring success. And your starting point would be to focus on this question and explore it. That may take time, but you will know it when you hit the right spot. Just keep in mind it’s what you want to do and not what others think you should do.

Ultimately, I believe there is only one true measure of success, and the source of that success can be and is infinitely diverse. What is the measure? Your degree of happiness.


In Business, It’s About Culture

Selecting the best people to work in your business rests with the culture of your business.

Your business will have a paradigm, an attitude, towards age and how it influences performance. You want to ensure as best as you can that this attitude says, ‘it’s not about age, it’s about character and we are looking for people with the right character regardless of their age’.

In our business, we want people who know they are a success and who continue to pursue success in their lives. Not success based around our profits as a business but success in what they achieve in their lives. And how much of that talent and effort is invested in our business depends upon trust and engagement. How much do they trust us and how well do we engage them through the purpose for which our business exists, the vision we set and all the other elements of our competitive engine.

Mustering The Combined Talent And Effort Of Everyone In Your Business, will provide you with a greater understanding of how to energise the competitiveness of your business.


If we allow age to be a defining attribute to prospective success, then we are robbing our businesses of their ability to achieve their potential. And no matter what age you may be, a life of enduring success is yours to be claimed. Do not allow others to seize this opportunity from you.


 An entirely new level of performance.

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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel