What I Learned from a 75 Year Old

Yesterday I met a man who walks five miles a day. He does this every day and has walked 14,000 miles. If you do the math, he’s been at it for close to eight years. He is 75 years old. By the time he’s 80 he plans to have walked a distance equal to circumventing the globe.

What did I learn from this discussion?

  1. The importance of consistency. It has been extremely cold here lately. He didn’t let that stop him (though he did walk inside). Every day. For close to eight years. Five miles. What have you done every day for the last eight years besides get out of bed?
    I’ll bet that after doing that every day, if he skips a day now, he feels it in a bad way. One of the things I see in Internet marketing and in business in general is a lack of consistency.  People commit to updating their site every week and do it religiously for two weeks. And then get sidetracked. Business development people commit to holding five outside meetings every week. And they do it really well for a month. But not, apparently, long enough for it to become a habit. Yet this older gentleman sticks to his routine and now it is a habit for him. A healthy habit that will help him age like a fine wine instead of a ripe banana.
  2. The importance of variety. I asked him what route he takes on his walks and he said it depends on the day, on the weather, on how he’s feeling and on whatever the day brings. Doing the same thing exactly the same every time, unless you work on an assembly line, gets stale rather quickly which then leads to a lack of follow through. By mixing things up though, you get a fresh perspective on life and on the task before you. Trying a new path to walk down, even if it is parallel to your normal path, can open your eyes to new possibilities.
  3. The importance of goal setting. At 75 years old many of us would suggest he slow down. Take life easy. Get a recliner. He could very well have said “I’m 75 and I just walked 14,000 miles, I’m taking a rest.” But instead he has a five year goal. And he’s already contemplating what to set after that. As the year winds down many of us are setting goals for the year ahead. But what about three years from now? Five? Ten? And yet here’s someone that is 75 and has a five year goal! Talk about inspirational!

What do these learnings mean to me personally?

  1. I am responsible for growing my company. That won’t happen if I’m not out talking to people, meeting new people, and revisiting existing connections and customers. But with a clear plan – instead of five miles a day I’m working on four meetings a week – I can set a consistency to what I do that helps my company grow in a healthy manner.
  2. Meeting with different kinds of people. We work with and target some distinct niches, such as tourism-based non-profits. By meeting with people that serve on boards, people from companies that serve non-profits and staff from the non-profits, I get clearer perspectives on what the needs and challenges of these organizations are which in turn makes us more valuable of a partner / vendor to these organizations.
  3. Setting goals is easy. “I want to earn $1,000,000 a year”. There. I set it. But setting realistic goals based on past performance and current conditions is perhaps a better path. And setting goals not based on revenue are very important. There is so much more to life than money. Whatever the goal that is set, it is important to not only set it but then to track progress towards the goal. If you say you want 30 new customers next year but at the end of the first quarter you only have three, you need to either change your goal or change what you’re doing to work towards that goal.

So whether you’re 75 or 25 (or somewhere in between), remember to be consistent in what you do, add variety as able and always set (and measure) goals.

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