I often hear people say, “Oh, it’s too late for me to change anything.”, or “I always wanted to do this, but I’m too old for it now.” Ironically I hear statements like this from people, who are only 40 or 50 years old! I listen to these sad claims and think, “What are you talking about?! It’s never too late. Not even if you are 90!”
Where does this belief come from? Why do we think that only those who start early have enough time to create anything worthwhile? Who says that if we have not made it by now, it is never going to happen?
I felt the full power of this demotivating belief about two years ago, when I decided to pursue a passion of mine and learn how to play piano. Every time I voiced my decision, I heard the same reply, “Aren’t you too old to learn how to play? If you want to play well, you should start when you are a child.” I was 27 years old and most piano teachers turned me down for the same reason – they only took children under 12 years of age.
It was strange for me to hear how many people actually believe that there is an ‘expiry date’ on our abilities, talents or dreams. Of course, if you start early you have more time to practice. But the time that you spend doing something is not the only important factor when it comes to success.
In most fields, age really does not matter. In fact, it can become one of the most valuable assets you have, as experience often counts more than unschooled talent.
As to my story… I finally found a piano teacher, who believed that you can learn to play at any age and, now, when my friends come over they always ask me to play something for them. It is true that there is still a lot for me to learn and that I probably will not become a world famous piano virtuoso, but, honestly, who cares? I am playing well enough to impress my friends and my family and, more importantly, I enjoy it tremendously!
It is a shame that so many people give up after a certain age, when there is so much still out there just waiting to be discovered!
Here is a list of Top 10 late bloomers, who demonstrated with their accomplishments that one CAN be successful and hit it big at any age:
1. Stan Lee
Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, was 43 when he began drawing his legendary superheroes and his partner Jack Kirby was 44 when he created The Fantastic Four. Now Spider-Man is one of the most popular comic figures, appearing in movies, comics, cartoons, coloring books, games, toys, and collectibles.
2. Harlan Sanders
Harlan Sanders, the Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, was 66 when he began to promote his style of cooking and created an empire. It is worth mentioning that as a young man, he worked in a variety of jobs that had nothing to do with cooking – working first as a farmer, then as a steamboat pilot, and later as an insurance salesman.
Julia Child changed the way Americans approached food, introducing French cooking to the masses. If you have seen the movie “Julie and Julia” you know that Julia Child did not even learn to cook until she was 40, and she launched her first masterpiece cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking when she was nearly 50.
4. Andrea Bocelli
Andrea Bocelli, although he has loved music all of his life, did not start singing opera seriously until the age of 34. Some ‘experts’ told him it was too late to begin.
5. Oscar Swahn
Oscar Swahn proved that even in sports age does not matter as much as desire to succeed. He won a gold medal during 1912 Olympics, becoming the best shooter in the world. He was 64 years old. He went on to compete in two more Olympics, winning silver at the 1920 Olympics. At age 72, he was not only the oldest Olympian ever, but also the oldest medalist.
6. Grandma Moses
Anna Mary Robertson Moses was a happy, long-time embroiderer until arthritis made it too painful and difficult. In 1935, at the age of 75, she first took up a paint brush. Her paintings were discovered in a drugstore window by a prominent collector in 1938, and a New York gallery show led to world-wide fame.
7. Elizabeth Jolley
Elizabeth Jolley had her first novel published at the age of 56. In one year alone she received 39 rejection letters but finally had 15 novels and four short story collections published with great success. She has become one of Australia’s most acclaimed authors.
8. Helen Gurley Brown
Helen Gurley Brown is known as the voice of women’s liberation and a role model for working-class women. But before she became famous and an influential editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, she worked as an advertising copywriter. Her big break did not come until she was 40, when she published her book Sex and the Single Girl. Helen Gurley Brown remained in her job at Cosmopolitan until 1997, when she was seventy-five.
Corazon or “Cory” Aquino, a pious, soft-spoken housewife was in her fifties when she became the leader of the popular movement that overthrew Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy to the islands. She became the first Female President of the Philippines.
10. Marjorie Stoneman Douglas
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas – was a freelance writer, who published her short stories in popular magazines. She wrote her most influential work The Everglades: River of Grass when she was 57 years old. At the age of 78 she started her long fight to protect the Everglades, which she continued until she was 100.
So if you have not made your big break though, do not worry – there is still plenty of time. However, it does not mean that you should postpone your dreams and goals any longer!