Over 40?—Maybe You’re Just Getting Started!
Researchers compiled a list of 400 of the most accomplished people of all times and areas of endeavor. There were statesmen, warriors, philosophers, poets, artists, writers, and scientists. Each name on the list was followed by his or her masterpiece or greatest achievement. Since any list of this nature is highly subjective, the list was submitted to a panel of historians and other experts for their opinions. Names and accomplishments were added and dropped until the panel reached a consensus on the final list.
From each person’s date of birth and the year of his or her greatest accomplishment, it was determined at what age that individual was at his or her best. The list was then sorted by age at peak performance, and divided into decades.
It was found that people in their seventh decade—between age 60 and 70—were responsible for 35% of the world’s greatest achievements; people between the ages of 70 and 80 were responsible for 23%; and people over 80, 8%. In other words, 66% of the greatest things ever done were done by people 60 or older.
Add to that 66% the 24% who were in their 50s and the 9% who were in their 40s, and that accounts for 99%. Only 1% of those 400 people did their greatest work before the age of 40!
The accomplishments of the under-40 group fall into two categories: those requiring youthful prowess and endurance, such as the conquests of Alexander the Great, and lyric poetry, which is typified by the super-sensitive temperaments and short lives of poets such as Shelley and Keats.
So if you’re over 40 and feeling over the hill—don’t! You may just be coming into your prime!
What Is Old?
Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear, and despair … these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.
Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing, childlike appetite for “what next,” and the joy and the game of life.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.
—Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)
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