Age is a Mind Thing: Breaking the glass ceiling

This is a guest post by Raul Cristian Aguirre.  Raul is founder and CEO of Tango/04, poet in the Argentine tradition and Goalkeeper for the Valvidrera Senglars.  He blogs at The Visibility Blog and you should follow him at @RaulCristian04.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Almost 20 years ago, towards the end of the summer, I was walking off the field after a hard fought game of soccer.  I am a goalkeeper.  I played a good game, and so did the other keeper.  We met as we reached the sidelines.  He shook my hand and congratulated me.  I smiled, and I told him that this was probably my last season.

“Why?” he asked.

“Well, I am getting kind of old, over 30 now”.

He frowned in disgust, severely disappointed by my answer. “What!*%$!?  I’m 42.  I am far from being too old to play!”

And man, did he have a point.

If I believe I can’t, it becomes true.

So today, I am again preparing for the start of our official league. I play with the Vallvidrera Senglars, my local team. I saved a penalty and was congratulated by my team for my performance—at the age of 47.  But more importantly, I loved every minute of it.

Years ago I almost made a big mistake. It was not my body saying I had to quit.  It was my mind.  I was thinking about what I “should” be doing, not listening to my heart.

The other day I came across Diana Nyad.  She attempted to swim from Cuba to the USA, more than 100 miles in open seas.  She was close to making the crossing, but an unexpected injury, an asthma attack and a very strong current made her stop after almost 30 hours of continuous effort.

That goal alone is remarkable, as no man or woman has ever accomplished it.   Even more remarkable is the fact that she attempted it at the age of 61—with a bad shoulder.

Her effort is inspiring to me.   Now I know that I can play official soccer for many years if I choose to.  My wife may balk at the idea, but it’s clear that it is possible. (And besides, she always balks at everything.)

Diana declared that her body may not be as good as thirty years ago, but her mind is far stronger. As we lose some power in the body, our amazing mind takes over.

You have to let your mind dream, and let your dreams take command. You can go wherever you want. It’s a matter of choice.

So remove those glass ceilings, and go for the gold. What’s the gold? Only you can answer this. You can try to be CIO if you are in IT. You can try to sit on the Board if you are already CIO. You can be the Chief Visibility Officer and make a difference. You can be another Steve Jobs and make a mark in the world. Outside the office, you can aim for the moon.

The pain of regret or the pain of discipline?

You may fail, but remember: Diana trained 12 hours per day. Whatever you aim to do, it’s gonna cost you. Be ready to pay the price, which amounts to nursing a never-ending desire for learning, hard work, and discipline.  It’s worth it: it will be your dream, and you’ll be awake to enjoy it.

The only thing you cannot try to be is goalkeeper for the Vallvidrera Senglars. That position is well covered, you know.

Read more from Raul at The Visibility Blog and you should follow him at @RaulCristian04.

What are you too old to do?

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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