It was a sad day when, for the first time in our lives, my nephew, Frank, Jr., beat me in a foot race. I was always a very fast runner, usually beating boys and girls of all ages in races. I enjoyed accepting all challengers and I enjoyed winning because running fast was about the only athletic endeavor in which I ever excelled. My nephew constantly challenged me to race him. Frank, Jr. is 10 years younger than me and we progressed from him having a “lead off” of a few yards to starting on the same starting line (usually a line drawn in the sand). On this fateful day, Frankie had grown taller than my 5’7″ height and he had high hopes of finally ending our racing competitions. We raced on the beach sand, as we had done countless times, and he won, by a landslide, bringing an end to my racing days in my mid 20s. All of this background is to say that age brings a certain slowing down that, unfortunately, seems to be irreversible. Once one slows down, it is difficult, if not impossible, to speed up again. There are many ways, other than running, in which I am not as fast as I once was. For example, after working for 12 to 16 hours on a day when we are conducting mock jury research, I am not as fast as I once was in bouncing back into my office work routine. It takes me progressively longer, with the passage of time, to “recover” from working long days, traveling, walking in high heels, losing sleep, and experiencing high stress related to my work. The quality of my work hasn’t declined, but the amount of rest I require in order to perform my job at a high level seems to increase every years. But, this being said, I am a long way from giving up or passing the baton to someone else. And, after writing this post, I am thinking about racing for the first time in many years. Now that my nephew and I have reached “a certain age,” I am considering whether I could win a rematch race. Time will tell!
Melissa’s post started focusing on a physical speed issue, and I guess we all experience some level of being defeated by someone faster or better at something. But, as they say, with age comes wisdom. The “they” in this case was Oscar Wilde and full quote is, per the ever wonderful internet, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” So, maybe we don’t want to go there. In any event, the reality is that research shows that the perspectives gained with age provide an advantage with tasks such as conflict resolution. Speed may relate to impulsiveness and quick decisions may not be the wisest. I have never been one to engage in races, speed hasn’t been that important to me – after all I drive a Volvo (Melissa loved her Corvette and now her Mini Roadster). Wisdom is what is important now – to finding efficiencies and still winning the race – working smart. Yet, I can confirm the physical toll that hard mental work takes. Being “on” for 12+ hours is demanding. And, with all of the before and after components of a research day, it is exhausting because we put so much effort into it. And, there is a physical component to a research day, one of our Research Associates reported to us that her apple watch logged her walking about 6 miles on a recent research day! But as athletes know, resting and recharging is important and we try to build that into our schedule as well. Some things can’t be rushed so speed doesn’t get our job done. What gets the job done is working smart and being aware of the need to take care of yourself along the way.