We are living longer, gone are the days when middle age was considered to be somewhere in the 40s. As science and medicine progress so does the life expectancy of the average human being. Diet and exercise and an awakening surrounding the significance of mental health have all contributed to people living longer. The question that needs answering however is one around the contribution we make to society in this extra time we are being given. As human beings can we contribute as much to positive change and influence in the latter years of our life or are these extra years superfluous and meant to be spent sitting on a bench in the park.
Arguably the most powerful man in the western world, the president of the United States of America Joe Biden has just taken the helm at the age of 78. Governing is one thing at this ripe old age but along with this civil and democratic responsibility comes the requirement for sound cognitive skills, the ability to understand economic and fiscal influencers and perhaps most frightening for those nearing 80, engaging with technology. Anything from sending an SMS to controlling nuclear launch codes will require technological comfort which at 78 some may consider more difficult to acquire than in one’s younger years. None the less the people voted, and it seems society is at ease with an almost octogenarian governing the land of the free and the home of the brave!
This month saw the playing of the 55th NFL Superbowl final. American football is not a game for the weak or sensitive. Americas game which culminates in one of the most watched spectacles globally was this year played out between firm favorites the Kansas City Chiefs who were being led at quarter back by Patrick Mahomes a young dynamic star of the future. In stark contrast the opponents on the day were underdogs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an unfashionable football team without much pedigree or past success. At quarter back however for the Bucs was a past 6-time winner Tom Brady, a player experienced at the art winning dealing with pressure and comfortable performing on the big stage. Brady is 43 years old considered by some to be far to old to be a professional athlete and one of the oldest players in the NFL. Brady and the Bucs made easy work of the game triumphing 31-9 in a one sided final.
The music business has morphed and changed a lot of late, in fact the proliferation of the digital download and the growing number of streaming platforms has meant that commercially the live performances now constitute a far greater contribution to the overall earnings of an artist. With access to music now as simple as sending a text or sharing a link artist revenues and associated music rights have become increasingly murky. Where does that leave artists perhaps nudging the twilight of their careers who in the past may have depended on the past royalties and rights of their music. They perform and they perform on stage with style and energy and class and charisma. The average age of the band members of the Rolling Stones is 75, Bono and his iconic U2 now average an age of 58, Bruce Springsteen is 69 and Madonna is 62. All of these artists know how to keep an audience engaged, keep a stadium rocking and most importantly can still hold a tune.
Politics, Sport and entertainment, the three pillars that make up most of our cultural perspective are increasingly becoming age agnostic. Increasingly the protagonists whose Age really is just a number; no longer does the number of years one has been on this earth determine the scale and value of the contribution one can make. If an individual is determined, driven ambitious and energetic nothing should stand in their way of positively impacting the lives of those around them. As long as they can perform mentally and physically at levels that are similar or superior to those that they engage with or compete against then it should not matter whether they are 50 or 100 and ultimately it will be us who decide when and whether they are past their sell by date.