The last ten years has brought with it the introduction of snackable content, the 30 second vine, the notion of brand without content, fame for being famous, and the growth of a phenomena of fast. Attention spans are shorter, bandwidth is getting stretched by people working three jobs, or one job for 120 hours a week, and reaching people, even within our own family or our own home, gets harder by the minute. We are bombarded by communications saying “test your limits”, “you can achieve anything”, “achieve your goals”, yet fewer and fewer people are being truly shown how to do this, and even fewer want to know. Most are looking for a quick hack, a short cut, and three minute video on YouTube, and because of this the fitness industry, the weight loss industry, and all the “it’s all about you” brigade continue to exploit, achieve, and seduce.
Wisdom is not a word used often these days, and there is genuinely little of it in public policy, major corporations, and in many of the positions of power in our society. People are forced to make our way as best they can, learning as they go, and for those without strong parents in their lives, self education is the toughest school on earth.
Wisdom is the combined application of (1) a correct and well understood view of how things really are, based on experience, education and deep thought; and (2) an understanding of the limits of human frailty, the reality of struggle and a genuine compassion for fellow man. Wisdom without compassion is nothing other than a sharp mind – it cannot understand why the right approach can’t work. It doesn’t take the time to heal wounds first or to listen. When someone can see the world as it really is, and combine this with a sense of the difficulties being faced out there, the wars being won and lost, they can truly make the world better.
At Old Man Strength, we take the view that wisdom ripens with age. When we look inside that, what we really mean is that (a) our understanding of the right way to see the world gets more mature and more settled, as the grooves of our youth get sanded over by life and we see the right way and the wrong way to approach different situations; and (b) our compassion grows. We see people become rich, poor, fat, thin, fortunes rise and fall, we learn that taking pleasure in the misfortune of others ignores the reality that one day such events will befall us or someone we love, but most of all we learn that our time on this earth is finite.
This wisdom, this combination of the right view and compassion, that we’ve worked so hard to achieve and to gain, has a potential to change the world in a way that not many older guys truly consider. For those of you with families, you are making a difference every day within your four walls, and for those who don’t, you would probably be surprised if you stopped and thought about how many people seek your counsel on a daily basis.
The challenge for all of us is to broaden that base and understand how important it is to recognise the question and take some time to consider the answer. Whether in the gym, on the mats, in the office, take some time this week to watch the number of people who ask you questions, who look to you for reinforcement, for validation, to understand what you would do in the same situation. Then, even though you’re in a hurry, think about those two ingredients – imparting the right view, and the harder task of doing so with compassion. It won’t take any more time, but let’s be honest. We all remember the vignettes given to us when we were young by strong old guys who knew stuff, and we all recall and apply them when things get tough.
So be that guy. Represent and Be Old Man Strong.