“Zuckerberg founded Facebook at 19,” my client exclaims. “Do you know what I did at 19? I was a waitress! A constantly drunk waitress!”
My clients make my day! They are some of the most amazing, intelligent and capable women out there, and even at their lowest moods, they do make me smile.
“I’m 41,” she sighs and then hesitantly asks: “Surely, I’m too old to start a new business now?”
We can all sit around and find faults within ourselves. We can make the claim that we are too old, too inexperienced, not smart enough, don’t have the right contacts, and so on.
“Well,” I tell her, “It’s true that Mark Zuckerberg co-founded one of the world’s now most valuable companies while he was still a teenager. It’s also true that Kylie Jenner became a makeup billionaire at 21 and Mary became the Queen of Scotts when she was six DAYS old. So what? What do they have to do with you?”
A lot of my clients think that they are too old to take on new life projects. You’d be surprised to hear that feeling too old is not a function of age. I have clients in their 20’s feeling they’re too old to reach success when watching 16-year old startup founders make a killing.
Feeling too old is often masking other fears of not being good enough or having what it takes. Whether you’re re-entering the workforce or starting a new business, being a bit scared is normal. The real issue is what we started with here: comparing yourself to others. It’s a useless exercise that only leads to feeling inadequate. Still, we do it. You wouldn’t think to compare apples with oranges and still – you do.
“I could tell you about hundreds of child prodigies gaining fame and fortune before properly developing their frontal cortex,” I tell my client, “but I could also tell you about Vera Wang, who changed careers from journalist to fashion designer at the age of 40. Or Cath Kidston who started up her own company at 45. Maybe none of them matter. We are talking about you now, and no, you are not too old.”
The truth is that your uniqueness, everything about you – including your age – is what will make you successful.
So when it comes to self-doubt and comparing yourself to the youngest and most successful people out there: Put your blinders on. Stay in your lane. Focus on your strengths – and then go ye forth.