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Age wrinkles the body, quitting wrinkles the soul

This saying, which is attributed to an American General, Douglas MacArthur, set me thinking.

It’s been a week of birthdays, with a number of people I know on the inexorable path of aging. As children we look forward to birthdays, proudly proclaim our age and are impatient for milestones that allow us to be seen as adults. Gradually we change our attitude, crow less loudly, become reluctant to “admit” to the passing years, as though they were a fault or somehow diminished us.

The truth of the matter is that we are all getting older. And as time is impartial, we are getting older at the same rate in chronological terms. It’s a fact of life. And the passing years, of which eventually wrinkles may be the sign, bring new perspectives and new wisdom if we allow them to.

What none of us wants is to lose the vivacity with which we engaged with life when we were young. Not pursuing our ambitions, not carrying through to the end on a project because it’s difficult, not facing up to challenging conversations – this is the sort of quitting that wrinkles the soul, reduces our energy, lessens our enjoyment of life and satisfaction with ourselves.

We need to stay resilient and focused if we want to overcome challenges and feel we’ve done our best. In a leadership position, this may be a lonely path to tread. There may be lots of other worthy or pressing demands which divert attention and it can be hard to say “no” to them. There are choices about smaller things to jettison so as not to “quit” on the big one. So who do you know who can help you prioritise, stay on target and keep your soul young?