You’re never too old to learn and grow (I hope!)

“Our ability to grow is directly proportional to our ability to entertain the uncomfortable.” ~Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life

A recent email exchange within one of my coaching groups addressed our discomfort with being stretched outside our comfort zone. I share this story with (the author) Carole’s permission:

“A few weeks ago my 97-year-old father-in-law died after the loving attentions of my mother-in-law could no longer sustain him. Despite many attempts by my husband and siblings over the last few years to set up an alternative living arrangement, my mother-in-law was not ready to leave her home but has always been insecure about being alone.

Her daughters spent much time at the family home as Pops’ days wound down, and for several days after the funeral one daughter literally slept in the same bed to help my mother-in-law be comfortable staying in the house. Then, the day came when no one was available to spend the night.

After the first night alone, I called my mother-in-law to see how she had fared. “I did all right,” she said. She talked about how she had gotten herself to sleep and how she had handled awaking in the middle of the night.

And then, after a pause she said, “I had to prove to myself that I could do this.”

I was instantly struck by the fact that she had probably never anticipated that, at age 89, there would still be new challenges to face and learning to experience!”

One of my clients, a 30-something manager who just finished his MBA was now a senior manager, complained of his discomfort with the frequent change in his workplace.“You worked in Corporate America for a lot of years, Jim. When is this going to level off for me?”

I just laughed. Yes, I’m sorry, it was very uncoach-like of me. When I could catch my breath again, I offered just one word: NEVER!

And then I told him this story about Carole’s mother-in-law. “This is not about work,” I promised him. “It’s about life.Your experience in the world depends very much on how you view change – is it the enemy, to be resisted and fought at every turn? Or is it, simply, the Way Things Are?”

He withdrew the question.



Jim Smith, PCC, is The Executive Happiness Coach®. He is an international speaker, executive and life coach, and author. He provides his clients with inspiration and practical tools to live a happier life and build more positive work cultures. He is the author of Happiness At The Speed of Life: 13 Powerful Strategies for Finding Happiness at Home and On The Job, and has touched the lives of over 10,000 people worldwide through his work on Positive Emotion and Leadership. You can connect with Jim at