I remember in my high school psychology class learning that ages 40-55 were the most “productive years.” (I hope that has since been adjusted to 45-60. But I digress.)
The theory goes that we spend our first 20-25 years getting educated and the next 15-20 mastering a trade or profession and then achieve at our work at the highest levels during that next phase (40-55) because we are finally “ready” and adequately “prepared.”
I am now age 50 and can report (at least in my case) that theory is at least half true. Maybe even 60% true.
But what about the other 40% that makes these years the “productive years?”
I think the other 40% of the cause of our spike in productivity is the looming sense of our own mortality.
At around age 40 we realize we don’t have the luxury to wait until we can produce the perfect concerto, write the best selling novel, deliver the life-changing lecture, launch the brilliant new business idea, or are finally ready to manage like a CEO case study before “going for it.” At age 40 perfection stops being our teacher and starts being our nemesis. And so we just start producing whatever we can and realize, to our surprise, it is better than we expected and others don’t notice the deficiencies (or at least don’t notice them as prominently as we feared.)
It is not that we have reached a point in our careers where we have finally matured or ripened to an ideal level where we can now produce at prodigious levels. Rather, we have reached the point in the game of our life where we either put some points on the board or risk being shut out.
It reminds me in football games of the final minutes when teams coming from behind go into their “Hurry Up Offense.”
These teams may not have scored a single point in the first half, but in the “Hurry Up Offense” they may post 14 points in 5 minutes. They must be in what psychologists call “Their most productive time of the game,” right? Or maybe they are simply playing against the clock. Or both. About 60% and 40%.
I think it is both.
So now…I am ready to start my day. “Huddle up. Wide receiver go for first down. On one. Break!”
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