Hile Rutledge
Trainer, author

Hile Rutledge

CEO and owner of OKA (Otto Kroeger Associates), a training and consulting firm specializing in leadership and team development.

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Teaching old dogs

Q: For years, we were told that human brains peaked in their 20s, and then came a slow, downhill slide. But a new book ("The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain") says that researchers, thanks to high-tech brain imaging, are proving that's all wrong. In fact, we get smarter, calmer and happier in middle age, defined as lasting into the 60s. Has this been your experience? Are there aspects of age that are far more positive than you expected?

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Or life begins at 40. Which is it?

Christine, 38 years old, struggled in her new position to understand and motivate her staff. Five years prior, she claimed she would have just forced her new direct reports to do her bidding or replace them with people who would. Now, however, she claimed that she felt she had both more options and more pressure to find solutions that didn't treat people as expendable. Christine used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® assessment to explore new ways to motivate and connect to her staff.

John had been told for most of his life that he lacked assertiveness. But, lacking assertiveness, he never stepped up to the difficulty of changing his behavior. Now in his early 40s, John engaged with the EQ-i and decided that his low Assertiveness score reflected a weakness and a potential career derailer. He then crafted a personal development plan that pushed him to boost his assertiveness and take more control of his life.

Like Christine, John needed the maturity, wisdom and perhaps the fatigue and bruising of mid-life to engage in this new behavior. Not only was he more able at mid-life to do this personal development work; he was not even fully able to do it until he crossed that maturity threshold.

As someone who has spent a career in personal and professional development coaching and training, I am certain that there are lessons that can only be noticed and integrated with the growth and balance that comes, luckily, with age and maturity. So not only can you teach an old dog new tricks, there are some tricks so challenging, that only old dogs can handle them.

By Hile Rutledge  |  August 23, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Success and age Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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