There is a point in everyone’s life and career when you are much more aware of Old Father Time than 10, 20 or 30 years before. Old Father Time is a lurker. One moment he is nowhere to be seen and the next, he is right behind you.
He has little regard for your current focus on life. He doesn’t care if you are taking your children to start university or preparing a board room report. He is there, silently watching. He doesn’t judge and doesn’t praise, but he is there.
How well you interact with Old Father Time is the key to the remaining years of your professional life. Some people ignore him like he’s not there. They fight him by trying to work right through him, thinking maybe he will go away if they work hard enough. He won’t.
Other people look over their shoulders frequently, quickening their life and work step. They try to create distance for him. But they can’t. We live longer and work longer but the saying is still valid – Father Time is undefeated.
Old Father Time first made himself known to me last year – at 61 years old. One day I was working on a challenging project, and there he was. He was quiet but I could see him. I said nothing and he said nothing to me, but we both knew he was there. The usual thoughts popped into my head: “Wow, where did you come from?” and “Really, now, we’re here, already?”
I put a lot of thought into his appearance and wondered why I was so surprised. After all, I had gotten married, had children, watched them grow, kept moving forward in my career until I achieved the position I had wanted from the very start of it all.
And then my hair started leaving my scalp and went from jet black to a bit of grey, then salt and pepper, and, finally, to mostly – okay, all salt.
Despite that, I felt more innovative, more confident, and much more at ease with myself and what got me here. When others made mistakes, I was more forgiving. I didn’t sweat the smaller stuff like I had when I was younger. I realised that most people came from a good starting place; from the same point I did. They want to do what’s right and good in the world.
I also realised my life had steadily improved; no matter who was running my country, no matter which party they were from or whom I agreed with more. I understood what happiness was/is, why it is so important and how much I played a part in making that happen.
My advice is to embrace your Old Father Time when he makes an appearance in your life. I gave mine a nickname – the OGOFT – the Original Gangsta Old Father Time. I see him. I am aware of him and I like him because he is here for a reason. The OGOFT is telling me, as quietly and as nicely as possible, that it’s not all about me – it’s always about others. His (not so) sudden and (not so) predictable appearance in my life is the way it should be.
“He encourages me to take stock and look at all I have accomplished in business and what I still want to do. He helps me prioritise what is important and discover untapped possibilities. His presence is not a threat. It is a motivator like a pace car in a road race. It is a clear track, and he is helping me see the finish line.”
Because of OGOFT, my friendships are better defined and my life goals are more apparent. I am okay with him in the room. If I overreact negatively to something trivial, he lets me know it is okay to move past it. He is creating more space in my life at a time that I need it most.
For all the younger people reading, please know that he is coming. Spend time thinking about how you will welcome Old Father Time into your life, office, home, and family when the time comes. When he shows up, you will know you have arrived. You are at a point in your life where he is here to focus on you. He is a leader and helps you understand more clearly while showing you the way.
If he is anything like my OGOFT, you’ll understand he only wants to help you focus. You’ll be glad you have this partner to help you prioritise.
This article was written by Rick Harris.
Rick has 32 years of association management experience, with the last ten years spent as the CEO of APMP. He is committed to the bid and proposal industry and has guided the association to 100 percent growth to 10,500+ members over that time. With the help of APMP’s Board of Directors, Rick created Bid & Proposal Con EuropeTM and Bid & Proposal Con AsiaTM to promote professionalism in the bid and proposal industry worldwide. He is APMP Practitioner certified and encourages all bid and proposal professionals to join APMP.