Age vs. Aptitude

People are called to greatness at different points in their lives. We are all inspired by youth who have the inspiration and motivation to make change happen.

Take Dutch Pelger for example. The 11-year-old from Montanta completed a two-week backpacking trip recently through the wilderness with his father to raise money for the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss. As a boy whose own hearing aids cost $3,500 each, it was important to him that he help others who don't have the financial means. As a result of his unbelievable 60-mile excursion, he raised nearly $10,000 for children just like him.

However, greatness is not reserved for them. Seasoned professionals find their own greatness is incredible ways that inspire people of all generations.

Harriette Thompson of North Carolina is a prime example. For a woman who was most often recognized as a classical pianist and later as a bold cancer survivor, one of her last achievements in her life is the one that made headlines. Inspired by a friend who was raising money for a cancer charity marathon, Thompson began training at the age of 76 and has the record for the fastest time in a marathon for a woman over 90 years old. As reported in a New York Times article: "At 91, she ran the 2014 San Diego marathon in 7 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds — faster by nearly two hours than Mavis Lindgren’s official United States record for a woman of at least 90."

Still, ageism (and reverse ageism) exist in our society.

In this episode, we discuss how stereotypes are real but not insurmountable for anyone of any age to reach their potential. Age does not directly related to that aptitude or ability of an individual. The proper term is ageism, which is defined by the World Health Organization as "is the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age".

Although this definition lends itself to address people of all ages, newer terminology has emerged in more recent years for discrimination of younger people because of their age is "reverse ageism". It's a tendency that has been acknowledged and documented throughout the rise of Millennials in the workforce where older generations find their unique perspectives and needs to be incompatible with and sub-par to their traditional expectations. "We know that making sweeping generalizations about any group of people being 'lazy,' 'unprofessional,' 'unreliable,' or 'narcissistic' is repugnant," Launchbox CEO Dan Negroni wrote in a September 2017 blog post. "Unless we are talking about the dreaded 'M' word, Millennials. Then, apparently, it’s okay."

And of course Negroni is being cheeky in this reference. Any kind of ageism is a sign of ignorance and possibly disrespect. Despite its undeniable existence, there are ways to combat and even diminish its presence:

  1. Push Past the Resistance: It is important to recognize, rather than ignore, that stereotypes are real. By acknowledging them, you don't give them but rather prep yourself for the resistance that you may face. Forewarned is forearmed.
  2. Believe In Yourself: Confidence in your abilities, your knowledge and your dream is a powerful way to withstand any criticism or rejection that may come in part due to ageism.
  3. Be Prepared to Earn It: "Come to the party" with your hard work and readiness to verbalize your vision to dispel any preconceived notions about you based on your age.

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