My first job was a cashier at Hardee’s. My boss’ name was Gil and I can see his face in my mind like it was yesterday. Gil had a nickname for me, “Youthful Exuberance.” Pretty big word for a fast food chain assistant manager, but it had an effect on me. Every day when I bounded into the restaurant after school, eager and ready to start my three-hour shift, Gil would say, “There she is youthful exuberance, everyone out of her way.” I wasn’t sure exactly what exuberant meant and we didn’t have Google back then to search it, but I knew it was a compliment.
Gil’s label stuck with me. With my high energy and enthusiastic attitude, I darn near raised my hand to volunteer for any task. When I interned at a small network television station my exuberance gained me the confidence of the assignment editor and before you knew it I was lugging TV cameras (film back then) to stories and getting some on-camera time at only 18 years-old. They loved my high energy and “can do” attitude. I learned quickly that exuberance took me places. It ended up being the key to my success.
Now, as I have decades of work experience behind me, I wonder where my youthful exuberance went. Gil is no longer there to inspire me and I’ve long since lost the youthful part. But, there’s no reason that the exuberant part should be gone as well. After all seasoned workers like ourselves, we’ve been there done that, we know the game. You know that infomercial ad where the old lady is lying on the floor screaming, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” that’s not us!! We HAVE fallen and we’ve gotten back up again and again. We have so much knowledge and wisdom and expertise and battle scars and victories that nothing should stop us at this stage of our career far more when we were too inexperienced to know better.
So if you’ve got four, five or six decades showing in the age column of your driver’s license, that doesn’t mean you are on the home stretch of your career. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s was in his 50’s when he opened his first restaurant. He certainly must have had some exuberance to do that. So lose the complacency. Stop counting the days till retirement. Find that exuberance you once had and when you do…don’t be surprised if you don’t feel that youthful part again, too.