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By David Harder on June, 23, 2015

Growing Old Disgracefully

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

– The Goddess Sophia Loren

A few years ago, a valued colleague was initiating an ambitious program moving talent development into the virtual world. She was asking me for advice and I blurted out,

“Run away from the old farts.”

It was a shoot-from-the-hip response to the question. As we continued our conversation I suggested that the title “old farts” can apply to anyone, regardless of their age, who is trying to protect a world that no longer exists. Change is moving so quickly that wasting any energy over the past often spells the difference between almost making it and succeeding.

Years ago, I was at an event with several hundred people who were gathered to hear Timothy Leary speak. A charismatic women, well into her seventies, walked into the ballroom with her entourage. A asked a few people around me who she was and they responded, “Oh, that’s Emily Coleman. She’s like the grandmother of the human potential movement.” I later learned her proudest achievement was to introduce nude encounter groups to the world. Emily appeared to be having so much fun that I walked over and introduced myself.

She turned around and said, “Oh, I know who you are. Please take this.”

It was a note. I opened it and it read, “You’re hot. I would like to get to know you. Call me.”

We became dear friends. Emily was just finishing a new book called, “Growing Old Disgracefully.” In the years I was blessed to know her, she instilled this awareness that maintaining our vitality and youth as we age requires breaking our taboos and beliefs. She often talked about how we protect ourselves from change with our beliefs. If we do that, it is impossible to embrace all that is new in front of us.

Emily immediately enrolled in our seminar, fell in love with the work and would often ask to be part of the staff running the program. She had a gift in knowing what was going on with even the most guarded of individuals.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from Emily is that laughter keeps us young. She had a gift to provoke laughter to the very end of her life.

I don’t believe we will ever see a comedian fly a plane into a building.

Laughter often is that final catharsis when we let go and allow higher wisdom into our minds.

There is too much that we hold onto as truth. Beliefs have the biggest propensity of turning into old farts. Beliefs are transitory. Beliefs change.

We deliver a truth process. I routinely observe participants setting aside cherished and long held beliefs about their limitations, the restrictions of the world and the “way things are.”

I miss Emily. There are so many times that something is heavy taking place and I have yet to learn the dexterity she had in getting anyone to laugh at the elephant in the room.

I will do my very best to grow old disgracefully.

Bring youth to your career!

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