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Mission: One of the missions associated with my pushup project was demonstrating to people over 50 that extraordinary achievement was possible no matter what your age. Although I do not believe that “anything is possible”, I do believe that I have no idea what is possible for me. None of us does.

However, this weekend I realized something. Many of my clients are in their 20s and early 30s, what I would call young. They come to coaching wanting more or less of something and I work with them to create new perspectives and capabilities. I work to understand how they structure their experience, how they see time, their self-talk, how they think about their future and the past.

The process in usually enlightening, at least I would like to think so.

The interesting thing is the conversations I have with my young and older clients are very similar and inculcates discussion of temporal insights. Many young people have a view that they have time for almost anything. It might be called one of the blessings of youth. Anything seems possible and although time is considered, there is no pressing need to take action. Time is ignored . Conviction becomes a nice idea or thought, located in the head rather than the gut.

My older clients are just the opposite. The realization that time is in such a short supply can de-motivate them. They begin to think only in terms of limitation. There is not enough time to blossom, to expand their capabilities and interest.

It is as if we are all crucified between two time thieves. On the left is the folly of youth, where the sin is the arrogance of abundance. Time is not a precious commodity, but free like the air we breathe. There is the appearance that time moves slowly when we are young; a cruel illusion of sorts designed by the gods as some sort of joke. Tomorrow becomes a mantra…later becomes a habit.

On the right, the thief is old and the sin “understanding.” Time has become canonized by the men and women who came before. Time shows up as a limited resource. The belief systems and structures of our experience pre–suppose what is possible. The disappointments, injuries and “maturing” have slowed down our life; and with it, time begins to move even faster. There is the illusion that time has run out. It is time to retire, resign, let go, let life slow down and in a way get ready for dying – act our age.

Between these two thieves, we stand paralyzed, unable to move forward with any real conviction, confidence or empowerment. There is always time and there is always no-time.

Either direction is an illusion, a story you tell yourself and believe in. The content of your story is your responsibility.


Several years ago, I started looking more closely to what was going on around me.  The more I looked the more I realized the depth and complexity of what most of call “our experience”.  However, what was fascinating was just how different “our experience” was from one another.  We more or less have the same senses but ask any two people to observe a person, place or thing and you get two different views.

Sure there are similarities, we have many such common experiences, but the differences are legend.  Think for a moment about reading this text: the filtering that is taking place both consciously and unconsciously of the information (data),our brains are receiving.  You might find yourself shifting your weight in your seat, moving your arms, moving your eyes across the page, shooing an annoying fly, holding a cup of coffee all the while you are thinking about the words and concepts, relating them to your own experience and memories.

In The User Illusion by Tor Norretranders, T (1998)  there is an interesting table titled “Information Flow in Sensory Systems and Conscious Perception”.


SENSORY SYSTEM                         TOTAL BANDWIDTH                     CONSCIOUS BANDWIDTH

(Bits/s)                                     (Bits/s)

Eyes                                                                10,000,000                              40

Ears                                                                       100,000                             30

Skin                                                                   1,000,000                              5

Taste                                                                          1,000                             1

Smell                                                                     100,000                             1


The flow of information into our system is enormous but as the table indicates, we are conscious of just a fraction of the data.  It is no wonder we see, hear, feel, taste and smell differences…and it also gives you a good idea of just how astonishingly complex our brains are. Filtering that volume of information every second and making sense of it is let us say, amazing.

Let us just look at Nonverbal communication (NVC), usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages.

According to Wikipedia, “NVC can be communicated through gesture and touch (Haptic communication), by body language or posture, by facial expression and eye contact. NVC can be communicated through object communication such as clothing, hairstyles or even architecture, symbols and infographics. Speech contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, emotion and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation and stress. Dance is also regarded as a nonverbal communication. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words, or the use of emoticons.”

NVC is only one small portion of our communication structure.  Add to that language, context, conceptual mapping, emotions, drives and the primary operations of identification, evaluation and engagement and you have lots to think about as well.

I am fascinated by interpersonal communication, perception, and much of what I do while coaching is work within this domain.  We perceive the world very differently although for the most part have the same senses.  We also have unique and similar ways of evaluating and engaging the world, some of which could be called elegant and other not so much.

So how do we understand more about what we know is the truth, reality?  How can the same problem be perceived so many different ways?  Can we learn to expand our perceptual abilities in a meaningful enough way to improve our choices?  Are you sure we see, feel, and hear the same things?

In Mel Brooks file, “History of the World – Part 1” there a scene during the Roman period where a number of people are waiting in line to collect unemployment. Mel Brooks steps up to the window and is asked by Bee Author

“ What is your profession.”

Mel arrogantly replies, throwing his head back “I am a standup philosopher.”

Bee looks at him boorishly and asks, “A what?”

With great arrogance “I am a standup philosopher, I comprehend the vapor of human experience into a viable and logical comprehension”

Bee, with all the mockery she can muster (which is considerable)  says, “So you are a bullshit artist.”

It is a funny bit in a very funny movie but it seems to relate to my point here…it is about perspective.  To one a philosopher to the other a bullshit artist… all in the space of a few gestures and words.