I was so blessed to have a friendship with the late Baseball Hall of Fame Manager, Tommy Lasorda (Dodgers). I’ll always remember visiting his office at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and seeing a large banner on the wall that read, “Find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Always claiming to “bleed Dodger blue,” Tommy never viewed his nearly seven decades in professional baseball and 60 years with the Dodger organization (as a player, a minor league coach, a major league manager and an exec in the front office) as work. He loved what he did and anyone that ever knew him, met him or heard him speak would agree he was forever young.
I firmly believe there is a “fountain of youth.” No, it’s not the tourist spot in St. Augustine, Florida. It is your mind, your passion and the energy you bring to your life and to the lives of those around you. Dig deep and harness that power and you will triumph over the aging process.
Sure, we all have to get older. But that doesn’t mean we have to be old. Success, happiness and fulfillment comes from being young and I don’t mean chronological youth - I mean young in spirit, young in your heart and young in your head. After all, youth is all about being open-minded, taking risks and embracing change. This kind of youthful thinking can come at any age and at any stage of your life.
We all know 75-year-olds who are open-minded, energetic, highly inquisitive, adventurous, optimistic, spirited and passionate about all they do and everything around them. Sadly, we also know 25-year-olds who are closed-minded, pessimistic, cautious, lethargic and have no passion for anything or anyone.
Consider that children who color outside the lines, invent games and invent rules to those games are happy as a lark. Unfortunately, we “card-carrying adults” are typically reserved and reluctant. We oftentimes meet change and challenge in a highly conservative, hesitant manner. Rather than emulating young people and embracing their willingness to create, invent, aspire and make new efforts to attack challenges, we question everything and often criticize.
Deep down inside, we know that happiness directly correlates to being young at heart and young in mind. However, we’d prefer to avoid change, and instead of meeting it with energy and gusto, we typically sit back and complain about the new order with a package vanilla phrase: “This is not the way we’ve always done it.” That is a classic example of “paradigm paraylsis" - being paralyzed by your rules and your longstanding ways of doing things.
There are only three things you can do when confronted with change. You can ignore it, adapt and adjust to it or you can make other changes.
You will never drink an ounce of the fountain of youth if you take the "ignore it” route. Ignore change and you will evaporate. After all the thought that "it won’t happen here" always happens here. The unsinkable Titanic sunk. The unbelievable (transplanting a heart) is now believable. The incredible (creating life in a test tube) is now credible. After all, those who say “it can’t be done” need to get out of the way of those who are doing it.
If your choice is to adapt and adjust to change, you’re likely to survive. But is surviving enough? Don’t you want to thrive? Don’t you want the gold ring? Don’t you want the “high five?”
The key to success and ultimately drinking from the fountain of youth is the third choice. Make other changes. You be a change agent. You be a change catalyst. You should invent, create, reach, do, aspire, seek and pursue everything and anything new for you. Making changes will keep you young.
Embrace a new style. Walk differently. Talk differently. Read books you’ve always wanted to read. Travel to places you’ve always dreamed of visiting. Learn a new language or how to master advanced functions on your computer. Start a new hobby. Start a new business. Just start!
Don’t save anything, ever, for a special occasion. Every day of your life is a special occasion. Don’t hold back, hesitate or delay. It’s a basketball phrase but it works in life: “You cannot score unless you shoot.”
Believing you have endless possibilities will lead you to the fountain of youth. It’s time to celebrate your uniqueness. Challenge yourself to grow, and you will. Don’t leave a trail of regrets. You’ll regret the things you haven’t done much more than those you have done.
Raise your glass, think young, act young and do things you love to do. Take a drink from the fountain of youth. Cheers!
CBJ columnist and Acworth resident Ira Blumenthal is a business consultant, best-selling author, globally-renowned speaker, educator and college lacrosse coach. Learn more about Ira and his latest book, "Your Best Is Next," by visiting IraSpeak.com.