Speaking of yoga, when I first started taking yoga classes a decade ago, I had a teacher named Rolf Gates who started his professional life as an Army Ranger (the army equivalent of the Navy Seals) [pls see comments below; this isn't exactly right, apparently, but it's close]. One day, Rolf made the point in a class that, for those of us who played a sport seriously, we often treat physical activity as if our peak days were behind us. For the high school or college athletes, we trained hard and pushed our bodies back then…now we just totter around the gym, acting like breaking boundaries was a thing of the past.
It’s easy to fall into the same trap professionally – to think that our days (or years) of greatest growth were a decade or two (or three or four) ago, when we were in a structured university environment surrounded by great minds who pushed us every day.
What about now? We might learn incrementally, take a training course here and there…but the breakthroughs, the “ah hah!” moments? Those are in the past.
Or are they? You can have a professional life surrounded by great, inspiring people who push you every day. And those great, inspiring people don’t have to be people with fancy degrees and lots of letters after their names. Instead, you have the opportunity, right now, to start listening to people and to their stories – the people you work with, the customers you serve, maybe the person you pass every day to whom you just say “hello.” If you take the time to open a conversation, you will learn from these people (and they from you).
And if every day you are learning something, think of where you’ll be a decade from now, and compare that to the person you would have been if you thought your days of greatest growth were behind you.