The TV happened to be tuned to the pre-game show of the Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston game on Sunday and I was half listening as CBS commentator and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin interviewed Ray Lewis, a Linebacker with Baltimore. Ray is young at 36 but in football lives, he is starting to get the snide comments that he should hang up his shoulder pads. I started to listen as Ray was talking about proving himself as an older athlete. He said that he does a couple of things to dismiss the “older” stigma.
a. He tries to stay healthy with a good diet. From what I’ve read, he hasn’t touched junk food in years. A fish and veggie eater, his occasional treats are Gummy Bears and red Twizzlers.
b. He practices and focuses. Ray Lewis has kept a notebook of his practice and exercise routine for years and he sets goals to maintain his physical activity, strength and stamina.
c. He thinks positively. In an interview with CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman he said, “If people think I'm slow let me say this, “Sideline to sideline there still isn't a 'backer in this business that can beat me. Sideline to sideline. Not one. I challenge you to find one."
The same three steps can apply to the older job seeker. While we all know that it is important to maintain our health and energy with diet and exercise, Ray’s take on positive thinking and practicing his skills (as well as learning new skills) is what stuck with me. Anyone in the job market needs to make sure that they stay up to date with the current skills relevant to their positions. If this means taking classes, practicing, discussing, networking and especially learning new skills, then so be it. This is especially important to burst the stereotype of the older job seeker. Finally, how do you make sure that you stick with this regime? Like Lewis, keep track of your activities with goals and a checklist. It takes discipline.
Ray Lewis recently said, “I don't know when it will all be over for me. People want to use my age against me. They say I'm too old. People fear getting old. I don't fear that because now I have wisdom and a tough body to go with that wisdom."
Nice words for all job seekers.