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Archives ~ November 2013 Entries

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We're All Young At Something: "Seniorpreneurs"

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

In my last Weekly Wisdom, I spoke about professional athletes' careers ending when they're around 40, forcing them into occupations in which they are very young. Now I want to talk about something similar but different: retirees starting businesses. According to an AARP survey of about 1,500 adults aged 45 to 74, one in ten people who work for someone else say they plan to start their own business when they retire. The survey also found that 15 percent of workers in that age group are currently self-employed. What makes this extraordinary is that these "seniorpreneurs" are voluntarily becoming young in their new lines of work. It takes courage, confidence and passion to leave a lifelong career and branch out into something as challenging as running your own business. Even if you start a company in the same field in which you worked for 40 years, being a small business owner is like being a first-grader all over again, with a lot less room for error. Millions are doing it, or planning it, but why? I think, in part, it's because becoming young at things renews us. We go from "been there, seen that, done that" in our previous profession to "I don't know, teach me" in our new one. While potentially frightening it's also thrilling and energizing. Part of the attraction of being young in something is that we get to be kids again. Sure, we'll make rookie mistakes. But we also get to discover new gifts that we might not have believed we had. That's magic. How has being young in something reinvigorated you? How can you bring that to the people you lead?

In my last Weekly Wisdom, I spoke about professional athletes' careers ending when they're around 40, forcing them into occupations in which they are very young. Now I want to talk about something similar but different: retirees starting businesses.

According to an AARP survey of about 1,500 adults aged 45 to 74, one in ten people who work for someone else say they plan to start their own business when they retire. The survey also found that 15 percent of workers in that age group are currently self-employed. What makes this extraordinary is that these "seniorpreneurs" are voluntarily becoming young in their new lines of work.

It takes courage, confidence and passion to leave a lifelong career and branch out into something as challenging as running your own business. Even if you start a company in the same field in which you worked for 40 years, being a small business owner is like being a first-grader all over again, with a lot less room for error.

Millions are doing it, or planning it, but why? I think, in part, it's because becoming young at things renews us. We go from "been there, seen that, done that" in our previous profession to "I don't know, teach me" in our new one. While potentially frightening it's also thrilling and energizing. Part of the attraction of being young in something is that we get to be kids again. Sure, we'll make rookie mistakes. But we also get to discover new gifts that we might not have believed we had. That's magic.

How has being young in something reinvigorated you? How can you bring that to the people you lead?

11.25.13 0
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We're All Young At Something: Over the Hill At 40

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

One startling thing about professional sports is that the participants are considered washed up and unemployable at an age when most of us are just hitting our stride in our careers. Whether it's baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, you name it (golf might be an exception)-if you're lucky enough to make a living at your sport until you turn 40, that's about the time you'll be handed your gold watch and told, "Thanks. Good luck with what's next." Imagine being over the hill when you're just figuring out who you are and what you're capable of! In sports, that's reality; everything, from reaction time to speed and durability, declines in middle age. That turns sports into a real-time experiment in forced transition from being old in what you know to being young in something new. Knowing their inevitability, how can we best handle such transitions? Many of us don't anticipate, nor face transitions well. We either hang on to what we know and are comfortable with far beyond its value to us, or flail around chasing the first butterfly that passes our gaze. The point is, becoming young can and does happen in an instant. How we manage those transitions is about our humility, openness and wisdom. What skills and beliefs can you call on for your next rookie assignment?

One startling thing about professional sports is that the participants are considered washed up and unemployable at an age when most of us are just hitting our stride in our careers. Whether it's baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, you name it (golf might be an exception)-if you're lucky enough to make a living at your sport until you turn 40, that's about the time you'll be handed your gold watch and told, "Thanks. Good luck with what's next."

Imagine being over the hill when you're just figuring out who you are and what you're capable of! In sports, that's reality; everything, from reaction time to speed and durability, declines in middle age. That turns sports into a real-time experiment in forced transition from being old in what you know to being young in something new. Knowing their inevitability, how can we best handle such transitions?

Many of us don't anticipate, nor face transitions well. We either hang on to what we know and are comfortable with far beyond its value to us, or flail around chasing the first butterfly that passes our gaze. The point is, becoming young can and does happen in an instant. How we manage those transitions is about our humility, openness and wisdom.

What skills and beliefs can you call on for your next rookie assignment?

11.18.13 0
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We're All Young At Something: Misplaced Certainty

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Think back to when you were, say, 22 years old. Did you think you had life all figured out? Did you roll your eyes at anyone who told you otherwise? We all did it. It usually resulted in us taking a few shots on the chin later in life, as we discovered that we didn't know everything after all. That's what's known as misplaced certainty, and it's a hallmark of the young. Unfortunately, it's also a hallmark of the older and more experienced. The more you know about a field or subject, the more tempting it is to assume that you've got all the answers. For example, in 1899 Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents, made this statement: "Everything that can be invented has been invented." Outrageous? Sure. Arrogant? Absolutely. But all too common. When we presume that we know everything about a field and everything that's possible in it, we close ourselves off to discovery and learning...and we close off the teams we lead as well. The great British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell said, "In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." That's wisdom. That's humility. That's also something we should all try to emulate. In what parts of your life do you owe yourself a look with new eyes?

Think back to when you were, say, 22 years old. Did you think you had life all figured out? Did you roll your eyes at anyone who told you otherwise? We all did it. It usually resulted in us taking a few shots on the chin later in life, as we discovered that we didn't know everything after all. That's what's known as misplaced certainty, and it's a hallmark of the young.

Unfortunately, it's also a hallmark of the older and more experienced. The more you know about a field or subject, the more tempting it is to assume that you've got all the answers. For example, in 1899 Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents, made this statement: "Everything that can be invented has been invented." Outrageous? Sure. Arrogant? Absolutely. But all too common. When we presume that we know everything about a field and everything that's possible in it, we close ourselves off to discovery and learning...and we close off the teams we lead as well.

The great British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell said, "In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." That's wisdom. That's humility. That's also something we should all try to emulate.

In what parts of your life do you owe yourself a look with new eyes?

11.11.13 1
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We're All Young At Something

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

In your chosen field, you might be the guru. You might be the one everyone comes to for advice and wisdom. That's great. But what about outside your narrow field of expertise? Do you even step outside your area of greatest competence long enough to find out what you don't know? I know that I don't do it often enough. When I do, I find the same thing that I suspect you find: while I might be a source of wisdom in my field, in most others I'm a babe in the woods. We're all young at something, and that can be both humbling and exciting. What are the characteristics of youth? If you said inexperience, a short attention span, and a tendency to throw a fit when you don't get your way, welcome to the humbling side of things. We all have fields where we're babes in the woods. I stepped tentatively into the world of writing books a few years ago and found out how little I knew-how young I was. Slowly, I'm learning, mostly by making mistakes but also by listening to those who know more than I do. Youth leads to maturity. What about the exciting side? Well, children are also curious, full of energy and don't care one bit about failure. We could all do with more of those qualities. Who wouldn't want to be curious about new areas of life and work and ready to explore new pursuits with zeal, joy and fearlessness? This month, I'll be exploring what it means to be young at something from both sides: inexperience and curiosity. Let's begin our exploration with a provocative question - at what are you young?

In your chosen field, you might be the guru. You might be the one everyone comes to for advice and wisdom. That's great. But what about outside your narrow field of expertise? Do you even step outside your area of greatest competence long enough to find out what you don't know? I know that I don't do it often enough. When I do, I find the same thing that I suspect you find: while I might be a source of wisdom in my field, in most others I'm a babe in the woods.

We're all young at something, and that can be both humbling and exciting. What are the characteristics of youth? If you said inexperience, a short attention span, and a tendency to throw a fit when you don't get your way, welcome to the humbling side of things. We all have fields where we're babes in the woods. I stepped tentatively into the world of writing books a few years ago and found out how little I knew-how young I was. Slowly, I'm learning, mostly by making mistakes but also by listening to those who know more than I do. Youth leads to maturity.

What about the exciting side? Well, children are also curious, full of energy and don't care one bit about failure. We could all do with more of those qualities. Who wouldn't want to be curious about new areas of life and work and ready to explore new pursuits with zeal, joy and fearlessness?

This month, I'll be exploring what it means to be young at something from both sides: inexperience and curiosity. Let's begin our exploration with a provocative question - at what are you young?

11.4.13 0
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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams