Looking at the hulking phenom called the NFL this season, it looks like the New England Patriots, led by 64 year old head coach Bill Belichick, are headed once again back to the playoffs, as we get into the heat of the run towards the Super Bowl . Sure as shinola, the Pats are even in the mix of chatter for a Super Bowl run. Belichick is six years older than I am, so I’ve been looking at what secret sauce he’s been taking to still stroke the fire, and keep putting out these competitive pro football teams. Belichick is right behind Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as the oldest active coach in the league, and is currently the longest tenured. What’s in the bottle, Bill, what gives? Having read a couple of books on the Pats, and Belichick, this team-up seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.
So, at this juncture of life, I’m figuring out how can Ol’ Billy Boy keep up with the other kid head coaches, and it’s pretty much what all those successful self-help books (plus my dear Aunt Boots) have been telling us – you don’t work harder, you work smarter. It’s glaringly simple, yet so many people, young and old, don’t heed it. This is also why, I think, you can become Mr. Buttondown, or Miss Priss Pants, at a younger age. Close your mind, close your heart, the rest of the card deck folds into place.
I don’t really have any grandpa stories this week, but I can tell you, I’ve had a flood of epiphanies since smartphones came on the market, and before Vanilla Ice made a comeback. I look at my in-laws, and some of their friends, and think, “What makes them go, go, go?” I look at actresses Helen Mirren, and Rita Moreno, in their ‘70’s and ‘80’s, both still busy as ever, with acting gigs that push boundaries, and creativity that stretches limits. Clint Eastwood is in his mid ‘80’s, and is as curious as ever about the subjects he picks to make movies. This age thing, whatever it means, shouldn’t really hold up a big, hairy sign that says “You’re Through.” As a matter of fact, the sign should say “Get Ready, And Welcome.” Just because you don’t have a high-profile gig like those folks doesn’t mean what you do doesn’t matter – far from it, Holmes. You can make a mark anywhere.
Sure, the kids work harder, longer, yeah, they’ve got the stamina, okay, I get it. Their metabolism is quicker, they rebound faster, need less sleep, just grind it out, yep, used to do that, Chief. They get how to use tech faster, all the latest apps and sites, it’s glam and cool, darn sexy, and edgy. I LIKE it - they just pound that stuff out like Mama Lacona’s pizza. I admire it – get that stuff out now, and FAST. Don’t try to keep up with new tech – if you do, expect to quit your day job, and devote your life to your new mantra. This is the rule, this is the norm, this is alright. Work smarter.
Getting back to Belichick – another not-so-secret secret is that Billy keeps his mind open. New methods, offensive/defensive schemes, new approaches, sure the game evolves, so should you. Also, resting on your past rep – it’s a no-no. The downfall of many leaders, and of course, the kids are going to see right through that b.s., and just roll their eyes. Can you blame them? It’s not a matter of respect, and really, mutual respect is not given in that case. Yeah, you’ve won four Super Bowls, wha’cha’ got for me today? As it should be.
Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel, says complacency breeds failure, to pull part of a quote from him, and that could be just settling into a fixed mindset that basically says, hey, I’m good, this is all I need to know in life because that’s all there is to know. Belichick is constantly curious about life, and the Pats philosophy of football business pulls ideas from, well, top business leaders and companies, art, music, religion, and life. Heck, I HATE them (I’m a Philly Eagles guy, and man, could they use anyone with a heart to suit up now, and play), but I respect the bee-jeebus out of them. Gotta give props where props are due, baby.
Lastly, I think keeping your heart open – it’s hard when you’re young, but twice as hard when you’re older. I’ve experienced people close to me who just closed off their heart to the point of dysfunction – that stuff is sad to the point where my heart was broken several times. But, you got to keep it open – what’s the right thing to do? Keep it open, and stay young, and alive.
So, the secrets aren’t so secret - it took me some time to turn my own head around, and it still keeps turning. And you know? That ain’t a bad outlook for the holidays, either. So, whenever I start feeling crusty about life, especially now, I’m going to think back on what I’ve written to you, and take my own dang advice. You see me on the street, just remind me.