Aging Out of High Performance?

Blog Post Transformational Leadership

As an avid sports fan (and in particular American professional football), I am a voracious consumer to all things related to the National Football League.  I watch analysis on TV, listen to experts pontificate on the radio, and read articles recapping last week’s performance and predicting upcoming contests.

This week, one article in particular caught my attention.  It was in the Wall Street Journal’s sports section and the title was, “The Patriots Have a Tom Brady Problem.”  I am the furthest thing from a New England Patriots fan, but you would have to be completely out of touch with reality to not admire Brady’s track record of winning and being a leader who inspires his team with his actions.  Many consider him to be the greatest quarterback of all time.

However, this year his skills have appeared to diminish somewhat and his team (while still well on their way to another playoff run) has lost three of their last five games.  While people have speculated about when Brady’s performance would tail off for years, it appears those predictions are coming to fruition.  In reading the article I wondered, “How do you know when people are aging out of high performance?”

Obviously, in sports as well as other physical disciplines, there are real declines caused by the body’s natural aging process.  However, professional athletes are not the only ones who have to contend with this dilemma.  In the current U.S. election cycle, much of the discourse has been about balancing experience with the advanced age of the top candidates (Biden is 77, Sanders 79, Warren 71, and Trump is 72).  CEO’s from Buffet (87) to Adelson (85) have continued to lead their organizations effectively well beyond the age most people would have left to enjoy their retirement.

So, in today’s age of advancements in healthcare, nutrition, exercise and mental acuity, who’s to say how old is too old?  The reality is that performance and results will continue to be the ultimate measuring sticks.  As long as the job is getting done, whether it’s a NFL quarterback or Fortune 100 CEO, people are unlikely to see age as a limiting factor.  And if Brady somehow delivers another Super Bowl ring to New England this season, I doubt anyone will be calling for him to hang up his cleats.

 

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