Listening to people can be revealing. If you listen (really listen), people will tell you a lot about themselves. Listen to the story they are telling. Listen to the one that they may not know they are telling.
While connecting at a conference, a story came to light.
“Carl, glad to hear that all the girls are doing well, still hard to believe your kids are that old, because you are so much younger.”
During the same conversation, we began to talk about running. I extended an invite to run with our group later that day.
“I am running more, but I am so old compared to you guys. I could never keep up.”
And later that day.
“Since I am so much older, I don’t have the same energy I used to.”
The real story was pretty clear.
As the group run was finishing, this person was finishing their run (ironically we all finished at the same time) and we were all standing in the lobby. I had a choice. Should I let their story continue or was there an opportunity to engage in this storyline?
“You know I couldn’t help but notice how much of your dialogue is about your age, how old you are, especially compared to others.”
“Is it that obvious?”
We reviewed our earlier conversations and that pattern that was previously hidden from them became clear.
“I didn’t realize how many times I said it.”
“Why do you think you are so defined by your age?”
“I think that so much of my life was defined by the roles that I have played: spouse, parent, and professional, that now I feel that I am trying to reclaim my life.”
“What do you mean reclaiming your life?”
“There are few decades of my life that went by so fast, and I was so focused on others, that I lost myself.”
We continued to talk. I could relate to this feeling of losing yourself when the demands of life, work, family, and career are competing to define us. We also talked about the role that these words are playing in the current reality. How the focus on age, and being older in some ways is not helping. Those words are trying to create a new limiting definition.
We agreed on two things:
1. We would be more aware of any self-limiting dialogue.
2. We would continue this journey of reclaiming our life and check in once in a while on the progress.
As we were about to part ways, I couldn’t help but ask one more question.
“How old are you anyway?”
It turns out that their perception of some vast age gap between us, was only four years.
Here are a few pieces of advice.
1. Listen. Listen to those around you, and your own words. How are you shaping your future reality by the word you use? What stories are you and others really telling?
2. Reclaim. Identify areas where you need to reclaim your life. What are those things that you had hoped to do, but your roles got in the way?
Keep me/us posted on your progress either in the comments section or via email on the contact me page.
(P.S. Just last night I read this story which may help all of us realize what is still possible, despite our age. And I thought running into our 80’s was possible…)