Kicking Ageism to the Curb Starts with You

Ageism sucks. It’s pernicious and pervasive and it can mess you up if you let it. Sure, there are forces outside your control that are trying to wedge you into an Ageism-branded box, but you don’t have to play along. This video gives you three steps to start reclaiming your right to a full, rich life to your last days. We’ll attack other parts of this problem in coming videos, but it all starts with you and the stories you tell yourself.


» SUBSCRIBE to YouTube Channel

· Clip from “Network”
· Blog post on “Watch Your Language”
· Pottery Video
· “Living Service” by Melissa Ford

[points at TV, while eating popcorn]
I’m watching a clip from the movie Network. Released in 1976, directed by Sidney Lumet, with a screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky that is considered one of the 10 best screenplays ever. Peter Finch, the guy playing Howard Beale in this scene (there’s a link above), won an Oscar for this performance, and particularly for this moment — and it’s so important for us, especially now; the parallels are frightening. So his character, Howard Beale, is being thrown out of his job because of ageism.

[Howard Beale]
I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to the protest; I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that, first, you’ve got to get mad! You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being, goddamn it! My life has value!” So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!”

[John does that.]
That is incredibly satisfying to do. Just to purge, all of that bullshit.

The thing is we need to get mad. Ageism is pernicious and pervasive, and it will f*ck you up if you allow it. And the problem is most people do.

I hear people in their 40s and 50s go, ‘Oh I’m too old to do this” or “I’m getting old” or “I’m show showing my age.” Or coaching clients of mine — late 50s, early 60s, with incredible careers, starting to go, “Oh well, I guess I had a good run. Maybe it’s time to step aside.” And there’s a very prominent comedian who just turned 50, who is publicly saying that, basically, people older than him should step aside and let other people have a chance.

Well, f*ck No!

We have a birthright to live as fully and completely as we can to our dying day, and no one can take that away from you — only you can acquiesce to it, and don’t! This is not the time to do that; you are not old unless you tell yourself you are. You do not have to sit on the sidelines waving a little flag going, “There’s the parade I used to lead. Hi!” You do not have to give in on anything.

I think we need a change of scenery here. 
[scene shifts to the mountains]

So here we are, back again, but in a very different environment. It’s amazing how much being out in nature can help shift your perspectives.

So the question now is, how do you want to feel about aging and how you are in the midst of it? I mean of course you’re getting older; we all are. My knee is messed up, but that doesn’t mean that I’m less than or that I should take a back seat.

You know, one of the issues for a lot of people is that they look at life like there’s a finite little arc, and they’re way over here on the right end when they get to 65 or 70. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way at all. With advances in medicine and science, if you take care of yourself, if you exercise, if you eat right, you could have the body of a 50-year old when you’re 80. And there are remarkable stories of athletic achievements by people in their 80s, 90s, and 100s.

You don’t have to accept a lesser life. So how do we hold ageism at bay? The easiest way to start is with these three steps.

#1 · Pay Attention to Your Words

How you talk about yourself, in unguarded moments, makes a big difference in the quality of your life, not to mention the potential for growth in the future.
If you say things like:
· “I’m old.”
· “I’m getting old.”
· “I’m too old to .” OR
· “Another senior moment.”
then you’ve just put your brain into a negative, constricted place. You’ve instantly limited yourself on what’s possible — now and in the future.

We’ll get into the neuroscience of all this in a later video, but for the moment, pay attention to the words you use to describe yourself and others.

It’s okay to say you’re “Older” — but it holds you back to say you’re “Old”, so please scrub that from your vocabulary, even if you’re in your 30s or 40s. Don’t refer to others that way and you won’t refer to yourself that way.

If you’re interested, I’ve got a blog post on this that goes into more detail. You’ll find a link in the show notes below.

#2 · Learn Something New

One of the best ways to show yourself and the world that you are not on the downside of life is to learn something new. It could be a whole new career, like Swift programming, or maybe a foreign language, but it could also just be something engaging, like pottery or playing the ukulele.

The thing is to take action *now* — like as soon as this video is over — not at some vague time in the future, which may get buried by good intentions and never actually happen.

It can be simple, it can be small, but make it something that stretches you, that’s not just another flavor of what you’ve always done.

And be prepared to FAIL at it for a while. That’s the only way you’re going to improve, by taking yourself out of your comfort zone. I’ll give you an example in a moment.

#3 · Work on It Every Day

If you just dabble at learning, doing a little today and a little more a week later, then you’re not likely to succeed in this new pursuit, and instead may start to confirm the stamp of irrelevancy that Ageism wants to put on you.

So don’t go there. Spend some time every day working on whatever it is you’re trying to learn. Even if it’s just five minutes, turn your focus to what you’re trying to learn.

And that’s my cue for a story 🙂

My wife has had an ukulele for years and I would often look at it and think about learning to play it, too. I’ve missed singing since I ended my musical theatre career, so seeing that uke sitting around the house was tempting.

I mean, how hard could it be to learn, right?

Well, if you have perfectionist tendencies, it can be harder than it seems. I would pick up my wife’s uke, make some furtive attempts to play something, and then stop in frustration because I felt like a klutz and the sounds were horribly muddy.

And then, while reading my friend Melissa Ford’s excellent book, “Living Service” (a must-read if you’re a coach), I came across the phrase: “Failure is Required.”

Think about that: to learn anything new, FAILURE is REQUIRED.

That idea totally transformed my thinking. By embracing failure, rather than fearing it, I suddenly had permission — even encouragement — to step way out of my comfort zone in service of learning and growing.

I created a little file where, for 30 days, I could record each day’s achievements AND what I failed at. It was so liberating!

I still have a LONG way to go to be “good” at this, but I’m having a blast and it’s got me singing again, which I’ve truly missed.

So . . .

· Pay attention to your words.
· Learn something new.
· Work on it every day.
· And don’t be afraid of failure.

John Windsor

Coach & Author · I help people reinvent themselves, at any age.


You may also like

Follow Your Instincts

Follow Your Instincts

Break Out of Your Mental Ruts

Break Out of Your Mental Ruts
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}