Thursday, April 16, 2009

On When to Peak

People develop and progress at different speeds. Nowadays, the norm is to want to progress as fast a possible. Kids are spending a lot of time, effort and money to accelerate their development in sports, the arts and academics. As a result, some are peaking early in life. However, I believe that demonstrating one's best performance later in life may be desirable. Here is my personal experience with peaking in different areas:

  • Sports. In my experience, kids that mature earlier are often better athletes in their youth. They are faster, stronger or more coordinated. However, an early advantage may not be maintained, resulting in some kids having their best years before becoming a teenager.

    I remember many of the star players from my youth football and baseball leagues having their best years before junior high. Only a few went on to even play in high school, much less be a star player.

    To me, peaking in high school or college is the best, for those that don't expect to make a career in sports.

  • Career. I've seen stars rise quickly in their first 10 years and never get another promotion. While this is not bad financially (being paid 20 years at a high level), it can be frustrating for an individual who expected to advance at the same rate throughout his career.

    On example is the child star in television or movies. Catching Up With the Cosby Kids shares how the actors have had varying success after the The Cosby Show, with none reaching the level they experienced as children.

    So far, my career peaked in my early forties. I'm hoping for a second peak as I explore next phase opportunities in my early retirement :-)

  • Life. The popular and cool kids from high school seem to have it made early in life. My mom would always remind me that there was life after high school and that it was important to strive for success in the future.

    Since I consider myself a late bloomer, I have a soft spot for people who experience success later in life. The story of 47 year old Susan Boyle auditioning on Britain's Got Talent (their version of Idol) is a great late bloomer story. The video of Susan Boyle's audition brought tears to my eyes.

  • With the exception of sports, I like to think that my peak still hasn't been reached, especially since I consider myself a late bloomer. Psychologically, I feel better thinking my best days are ahead of versus behind me :-)

    For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

    This is not financial, parenting or life advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2009 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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