On Aging and Leadership

by Mark Fisher

Students of the human brain are aware that different cognitive abilities peak at different times in life.

Younger brains are more agile. They have more of what’s called “fluid intelligence.” Younger brains have lots of youthful vigor and energy. They have an easier time innovating. They’re less grooved into certain patterns of thought.

Older brains tend to be better at pattern recognition. They have more of what’s called “crystallized intelligence.” What they lack in stamina they make up for in efficient analysis, hard won with years of experience.

There are of course exceptions. All brains are different. But on balance, if you’re looking for someone to work heroic hours and think outside the box, you’re usually looking at a younger individual.

But in a society that worships youth, there’s less appreciation for the superpowers that take time to mature. And some of those superpowers become very helpful as a leader.

This isn’t to say you can’t be an effective leader at a younger age. And it certainly doesn’t mean everyone over 40-years-old is a great leader. 

In fact, the older we get, the harder it can be to stay flexible and open to feedback. Since each relationship and each context is different, being able to size up what’s going on and effectively adapt is a core requirement of effective leadership. And stagnation is more commonly associated with an experienced leader who thinks they “know the ropes.”

On the other hand, many of the component skills of leadership are hard to develop without getting your reps in over time.

If you can’t recruit, hire, train, manage, develop, lead, compensate, and inspire other humans to devote their soulforce to a shared mission and a mutually beneficial relationship… it’s kinda hard to go on vacation and trust your gym can run without you. 

As you think about your role in your training gym, consider the strengths and challenges of your current season of life.

If you’re on the younger side, it can be intimidating when most of your clients and employees are older than you. I remember what this was like. But take heart. It may be easier for you to be flexible, adaptable, and more comfortable with changing things up.

And if you’re smoothly moving through middle age, fret not. Don’t shed a tear because you need a bit longer to recharge and no longer can –– or want to –– work 15 hour a day. Instead appreciate the benefits of your experience. So long as you’re committed to lifelong growth, you’re continuing to season your powers of strategy and empathy and worldliness.

Remember, business leaders can peak in their 70’s and even 80’s. 

No matter your age or level of experience, you’ve got a long and wonderful road of growth and progress ahead.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Is AI taking your job? Maybe…?

Below are some bold predictions about how artificial intelligence platforms like ChatGPT3 and DALL-E are going to impact your work as a gym owner. You and your staff will still play the most important role. The “human stuff” will be hard and probably impossible to...

Want to See How Other Gyms Are Run?

Do you ever wonder how other gym owners pay their trainers? Are you ever curious about how other gyms are generating leads? Would you like to know how other gym owners are paying themselves? If so, you’re invited to participate in our first EVER Business for Unicorns...

Do You Have To Pay For Digital Marketing?

Before I give you today’s heapin’ of gym business knowledge, I want to tell you about an event I have coming up. Join me in Alexandria, VA, at the 2023 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute for my session, “Time Management for Fitness Professionals.”  You’ll get early-bird...

#1 New Gym Owner Mistake

Let’s talk about the most common mistake I see new gym owners make… REAL TALK: This one is a DOOZY. It comes from a wonderful place. And it’s hard as hell to back your way out of. You see, many-a-new gym owner are excited for the chance to right the wrongs visited...

Seen My *Newest* Project? [Gym World Worldwide]

Keeping it brief today, but wanted to be sure you saw my newest project. That’s right… MOAR MF CONTENT! My pals John Franklin and Mateo Lopez from Kilo have joined forces with yours truly to start a new kind of fitness industry YouTube show: Gym World Worldwide! We...

My Birfday!

But Monday was my birthday.  I’ve cheated death.  Yet again!! Between my birthday and the time management workshop I did a few weeks back, I’ve got time on the brain. To that end, I wanted to share a resource with you that can help you use your time more effectively....