I was talking to my fitness guru Dana Cavalea, former strength and conditioning coach with the Yankees. We always talk about the importance of mentoring people and "mentoring up” (finding young people to mentor you).
What most people don’t talk about is how we have everything to gain from people with more experience. When I was 20 I was always trying to talk to people in their 30s. When I was getting married I was always going to talk to people who are married.
What my friend Dana did was go down to Florida and found people in their 80s and 90s instead of talking to the typical CEO or executive…people that were way closer to the end of their lives than the beginning of their lives. Think about the lives that those people have lived- certainly the longevity alone certainly means something- all of the experience over that length of time- there is a wealth of knowledge to tap into there.
How many of you actually talked to somebody over 75 or 80 years old at length? Have you considered asking them “What are the keys to get where you are?”
Here’s what Dana learned- he ran into this woman (Anita) who was well in her 90s (and outlived three husbands). He asked her, “What are the keys? You look healthy and vibrant. How?”
She said it’s a few things:
- She worked for a company that was really into the development of their people. She spent a lot of days out on the road working rather than being with her family. During those times what she realized was that the difference between her good days and bad days were largely based on attitude.
- Find the good in people. There’s typically people that are always negative and there’s nothing really good about them. But, in most people (99.9% of people) you can find one thing, no matter how small it is, and that’s what you blow up in people. She would think about that person in that way. Anita had a boss that was a bit of a knucklehead, but she saw the great way he treated his wife and his kids. Every time she talked with him that’s what she thought of.
Between talking to Anita and his 92-year-old grandfather, who talked about how attitude gets you through any difficult situation, Dana learned a ton. These people weren’t people that were reading books about attitude, but were calling on the core values they had lived their entire lives.
Can you find the positive in everyone? Can you control your attitude towards someone or something?
You can’t control a lot of things, but there are some and attitude is one of them. You can control the energy you bring into a room. You can control how you view and think about others.
A BONUS from Anita: Dana asked her how she knew where she wanted to live, what she wanted to do, and she said, "No matter where I am, or what I am doing, I know that I am supposed to be there. I trust that and never question it. That is how I ended up in California for 29 years!"