This is an era of young entrepreneurs where people rave about the thriving culture of Start-ups. Everybody dreams to be successful at a young age now. However, are you someone who has still not found THE GOAL of life when you compare yourself with successful people of the same age? Are you still struggling to get a clear understanding of what you want to pursue given the parameter of time? Did you say Yes? Well, not to worry; this article mentions about certain Late Bloomers who showed the world that success is not limited to age, and everybody can achieve anything with patience, perseverance, and hard work.
Late Bloomers are those people whose talents and capabilities are visible at a later stage than usual. Some people are prodigies, and, mostly, their talent take them to the pinnacle of success at an early age; whereas others follow an atypical route. They embark on a different journey altogether, and it take years for them to evolve and achieve happiness in their pursuit of contentment.
This contemporary world belongs to young entrepreneurs; it is an era of “Start-ups” where people rave about young achievers. The proliferation of the Start-up culture in the last decade does have a positive impact, but it has also become a springboard for imaginative leaps in terms of expectations, competitions, unhealthy comparisons, and no work-life balance. The world has always been unfair, especially to those who follow their passion but earn practically zilch. A person with a lucrative package is highly respected regardless of the no-learning aspect or the extremely mundane nature of his work. However, if the nectar of success is cherished at a later age, or if the hard-earned achievements are recognised very late in a life then are late bloomers categorised as slow runners in a rat race? Do they lack ambition or prudence?
Ask yourself. Are you someone who has still not found THE GOAL of life when you compare yourself with successful people of the same age? Are you still struggling to get a clear understanding of what you want to pursue given the parameter of time? Do you feel that things came late in your life? Not to worry; you are not the only one in this paradigm of modern-day work culture.
The demeaning practice of comparison – the perennial conflict of “we do not have enough”
Our biggest disease of comparison has led to an epidemic of depression, frustration, discouragement, low confidence, demotivation, stress, and unhappiness. We fail to understand a simple logic that everybody is unique and gifted.
We love to make comparisons; we are hard-wired to do this, I conjecture. Most of the times, comparison leads to shame which further fuels depression as we tell ourselves that we are not enough or we do not have enough as compared to others. We hardly value what we have or pay gratitude for the things we have been blessed with because we always find the grass greener on the other side. I understand that success is not only defined by having the right attitude with the right aptitude – which are the most crucial elements though – because the opportunities at that instance matter a lot too. Successful people seize the right opportunities at the right time, and hence, they make a mark. However, comparing yourself with them does not show your incompetency, and this is what we must understand.
Some people cherish success and wealth from an early age whereas some get them by 60 or so. Some people get married at 26 while some get married at 36. Some do MBA immediately after their graduation while some pursue this endeavour after 40. To summarise, every individual has its own speed, and they work in their own time zone; hence, it does not mean that A is better than B or vice versa. However, our biggest disease of comparison has led to an epidemic of depression, frustration, discouragement, low confidence, demotivation, stress, and unhappiness. We fail to understand a simple logic that everybody is unique and gifted and will get things at the right time provided we work hard for our goals where lack of perseverance is not an option. But we have done mastery in comparing our achievements with others; and hence, we suffer for our own deeds.
The situations where the satisfaction of our achievements are diminished by the ghastly comparisons refer to a profane practice which immediately needs to stop.
More than comparison, the act of validation of our short-term success and prudence has taken a toll. We achieve a divine feeling in the manifestation of our smartness to others. Unfortunately, we trade our long-term goals with these short-term self-esteem moments, and they further act as an impediment in our growth due to our constant craving for admiration.
In our lives, we all have encountered a plethora of situations where people, more specifically the nagging relatives and creepy neighbours, have compared your accomplishments with their daughters, sons, uber-distant relatives etc. We all have faced these embarrassing situations, and I am no exception.
The hackneyed act of comparison begins when a child comes into this world and considering a wide array of subjects such as school, college, job, salary package, marriage, no. of kids etc., people are judged by others at every phase. I, too, have faced numerous situations, especially when I decided to become a corporate dropout and do something of my own. Everybody has some person(s) in his or her life who gets the utmost pleasure in comparing your work with others, and the situations where the satisfaction of our achievements are diminished by the ghastly comparisons by others is a profane practice which immediately needs to stop.
The late bloomers and our act of judging them
In all honesty, I am a big admirer of the talented writer Malcolm Gladwell, and my latest indulgence into one of his most fascinating books “What the dog saw” propelled me to write about the concept of late bloomer. In one of the chapters, he brilliantly describes that how the act of misjudging late bloomers by considering stereotyping as one of the dimensions of our decision making process is unfair and wrong. His magnificent research and deep understanding about this concept is an eye-opening experience where I marvelled at the style of his writing and explanation.
If you ask me, it is a must-read book for everyone.
As mentioned in the beginning, a late bloomer is someone whose talents and capabilities are visible at a later stage than usual. These people take a diversion from the norms and the usual course of actions where success is defined by age in different genres. They uncover their true calling and show the world that it is never too late to learn or venture into something new. Many of them take the path less travelled and recognise their passion. Most importantly, they work hard, believe in themselves, and come out of their comfort zones. Their confidence and the fervent desire to fulfil the dreams at any age, which is just a number to them, is their biggest motivation. By rejecting the path of least resistance, they showcase their strength in an outstanding way.
Prodigies are conceptual
By considering the findings of an economist at the university of Chicago named David Galenson, Malcolm Gladwell mentions that creativity can be divided into two categories: conceptual and experimental; prodigies fall under the former and the late bloomers come under the later. Prodigies are naturally talented, and they have a clear idea of what they want to do and where they want to go. Think about the famous painter Picasso. His career as an artist began with a masterpiece which he produced at the age of 20, and this was just a beginning. He became famous at a very young age. Art is a genre where the age factor is tied up with the notions of freshness, creativity, and exuberance. In other words, the more young you are, the more valuable your work will be considered. And Picasso is the perfect example as his paintings in the mid-twenties were valued four times as compared to his work in his sixties. He, indeed, was a genius, and he had a clear vision regarding what he wants to pursue in his career.
Late Bloomers are experimental
However, there is another painter known as Paul Cezanne, a French artist, who belies the concept of “young age reflects creativity and freshness” because the paintings he created in his sixties were valued 15 times as highly as the paintings he created in his twenties. Late bloomers are experimental. They do not have a vision of what they want to pursue in the near future. The imprecision of their goals makes them follow an experimental approach where they learn from research and trial and error throughout the process. They consider their work as a process of searching and learning in which they aim to discover something new which will show them a direction towards their next destination. These artists build their skills gradually by improving their work in their long journey. They do not lack ambition or prudence, nor do they have any defects, but they follow a different approach where the journey of learning and improving becomes more important rather than reaching a destination or finishing a product. They are not naturally talented; however, their hard work and their aptitude with the right attitude take them to the pinnacle of success at a much later age.
Another misconception which I encountered lately was that talented people are not required to put much effort in any endeavour. They are born with talent; effort is only for the people with deficiencies. Let’s take an example.
When you notice someone working till midnight in your office, what strikes you first? Either, the person is not talented enough to finish his job on time, or the person is as smart as I am but more hardworking. Think about it. I am sure the first option will be the preferred choice with most of you.
Our eyes deceive us many times, and we do not think beyond the visual sight. Our brain is hard-wired to make assumptions about the people at first glance, and this is how we misjudge people. Even the talented people are required to nurture their skills, and the quintessential example is Sachin Tendulkar. Without a scintilla of doubt, his immense talent has won him accolades, but his wonderful attitude to improve and nurture his skills about cricket is the hallmark of a great player.
Few notable and inspirational late bloomers
Julia Child: The famous American chef was 32 when she started cooking unlike many other chefs who love to cook or are extremely fascinated towards cooking since their childhood. She realised her passion for cooking in her thirties and nothing could stop her then. Her debut cookbook “Mastering the art of French Cooking” was published when she was 49. She is recognised for bringing the French cuisine to the American public, and, surprisingly, she did not know anything about it till the age of 30. Yes, she was one of the late bloomers.
“No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing” – Julia Child
Vera Wang: The famous American fashion designer from the New York City was an editor at Vogue for 15 years; however, after being turned down the editor-in-chief position, she quit her job. Few years later, at the age of 41, she opened her bridal boutique and now she is one of the most successful and iconic personalities with her own lifestyle and fashion empire. Vera Wang admits that success came late at her doorsteps, and she was a late bloomer. She further mentions that it was not an easy or a quick trip; it was a journey where she has worked very hard.
“Success isn’t about the end result, it’s about what you learn along the way” – Vera Wang
Fauja Singh: The famous marathon runner participated in his first ever marathon at an unbelievable age of 89. Yes, you heard me correct. He was an avid amateur runner in his young age; however, he gave up his passion at the time of 1947 India-Pakistan partition. In his eighties, he again started pursuing his passion for running and ran his first ever marathon at the age of 89. Fauja Singh had very weak legs during his childhood, and he did not develop the ability to walk until the age of five. And now, he is a world record holder in his age bracket. Yes, he was one of the late bloomers.
J.K. Rowling: There was a time when this extremely familiar name was absolutely unknown. This famous British novelist came into limelight from 1998 when the first book of the Harry Potter series was published. Rejected by 12 publishing houses initially, the Harry Potter fantasy series have now gained huge success and have earned many accolades. However, she faced many hurdles in her journey. There was a time when she saw herself as a failure with no job, an unsuccessful marriage, and a dependent child. She was diagnosed with depression at one time, but she believed in her work and kept on writing. After encountering numerous failures, she was determined to win, and it was not until her thirties when she experienced the fame with the first book of Harry Potter series.
The most common trait in all the above mentioned late bloomers is that they have worked very hard. They were fueled by the curiosity to learn, and the fervent desire to follow their dreams never left them. They failed many times and faced numerous hurdles, but they stood up, moved on, and never gave up. These people knew that it would be a bumpy ride, but their courage to carry on and zeal to learn and grow kept them focused. They stood apart in the league with their fearless approach to enjoy this journey and leaving the comfort zone. Late bloomers did what they loved and not vice versa. They showed the world that when it comes to pursuing your passion, age is just a number and an excuse of self-pity. There were no short-cuts, but their perseverance paid off with their dedication.
“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” – Julia Child
That is why, the sick practice of comparison has to stop. Everybody is different; some understand their talent and are able to vision their future at an early age, such as prodigies, whereas others have a completely different approach such as late bloomers. Some are lucky to have the right opportunities at the right time where as others struggle in the quest of their identity. Though the goals of late bloomers are imprecise, what matters to them is the journey of learning and experimenting rather than reaching a destination. Apart from this start-up bubble where young people dominate and are proud of their achievements at a young age, the world has brilliant and talented late bloomers too which remind us that success and fame are not restricted to age. With intense devotion and commitment, they can be yours, anytime.
Hence, at the end, we must note the following important action items.
- Believe in yourself and never ever give up as the biggest failure is the failure to try.
- Everybody is gifted; we just need to identify those gifts in ourselves. Therefore, do something which you are passionate about. Make a plan; analyse the risks in case you need to embark on something new which requires you to come out of your comfort zone. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to be happy.
- Make a list of your strengths and achievements so that the next time you compare yourself with others, go through your list of accolades. Be proud of yourself.
- Whatever you do, give your 100% and work hard. Do not expect that things will come easy. Be curious, learn as much as you can and improve yourself at every step. Along with the list of your strengths and achievements, make a list of “things to improve or learn” too so that you know your forte as well as improvement areas.
Bring a positive change in your life and see the difference. We all have the capability to surprise ourselves.