Jeff Lerner Review by Rebecca S
Review by Rebecca S
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From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life Hardcover – February 15, 2022
Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner
Than You Think
What are the five most influential scientists to are alive today? This is the sort of question that people discuss on the web that you do not visit. I'm not planning to lead you there. However, no regardless of how much or little you are aware of science, your bucket list will surely include Charles Darwin. Today, he is remembered as a man who revolutionized the way we think about biology forever and completely. His influence was so profound that his popularity has not diminished after his death in 1882.
Yet Darwin died despite having considered his life to be a failure.
Let's get back to basics. Darwin's parents encouraged him to become a priest but for a job that he did not have much passion or talent. Therefore, he was a mediocre student. He was a scientist by passion and brought him joy and alive. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for him-"by it's the most important moment in my life" he later referred to it as-when in 1831, at the age of 22 he was asked to be a part of the expedition that was The Beagle, a scientific sailing expedition across the globe. Over the next five years on the vessel He took exotic animal and plant samples, and then returned into England to the awe of scientists as well as the general public.
It was enough that he became famous. When he returned to the United States at the age of 27 the scientist ignited an intellectual fire with his concept of natural selection. It is believed that as time passes species evolve and change and give us the diversity of animals and plants we encounter after million of years. Over the next 30 years, he formulated his theory and then published it in essays and books His reputation grew gradually. In 1859, when he was fifty, he wrote his masterpiece and ultimate accomplishment, On the Origin of Species which was a best-selling book that explained his evolutionary theory that transformed him famous and revolutionized science for the better.
In the end, however Darwin's research slowed and he reached a plateau in his studies and was unable to make any new breakthroughs. In the same period an Czech monk called or Gregor Mendel discovered what Darwin required to continue his research in genetics: the theory of genetics. Unfortunately, his work was published in a shady German journal for academics, and Darwin didn't even know about it. In the end, Darwin (who, remember was an indifferent student) didn't have the language or math abilities to comprehend the theory. Even though he published numerous books later on and afterward, his work was not groundbreaking.
In his final days, Darwin was still very well-known, and after his death, he was buried in the role of a hero for all time at Westminster Abbey. However, he became increasingly unhappy with his situation and his work, judging it as insufficient, disappointing, and not original. "I have not the heart or strength at my age to begin any investigations lasting years, which is the only thing which I enjoy," Darwin confessed to a colleague. "I have everything to make me happy and contented, but life has become very wearisome to me."
Darwin was successful according to world's standardsbut was ruined in his personal way. He was aware that, by the world's standards, he had everything that would bring the world "happy and contented" but admitted that his fame and fortune was as if eating straw. Only the growth of his career and new accomplishments like those he had enjoyed during his previous work would make him feel better, but that was beyond the capabilities of his current position. Thus, he was condemned to a life of misery in the midst of his decline. His melancholy was not a thing of the past according to all reports until his death at the age of seventy-three.
I'd like to inform you that Darwin's decline and discontent at the end of his life were similar to his achievements However, that's not the case. Actually, the decline of Darwin was perfectly normal, and exactly on time. If you, too, as Darwin are a hard-working individual who has worked to excel in your work then you're likely to encounter the same pattern of disappointment and decline-and it will happen much, earlier than you imagine.
The surprise ear of decline
If you don't follow your own James Dean formula-"Live fast, live long, and leave behind an attractive corpse"-you are aware that your physical, professional or mental decline are inevitable. It's likely that you think it's a long long way away.
It's not just you who think this. The assumption of aging, and the effects on professional performance is something that will occur into the future. This mindset is at the root of all sorts of hilarious research results. For instance the 2009 survey asked what "being old" means, the most popular response from Americans was "turning eighty-five." This means that on average, an American (who lives until seventy-nine) is dead six years before turning old.
This is the truth: In virtually every profession that requires high-skills the decline begins sometime between the late thirties and the early fifty. I'm sorry, this is a bit painful. It gets even worse: the more successful one is at the top of their career The more obvious the loss appears once it's begun to take hold.
Naturally, you're not going to trust me on this So let's take an honest take a look.
The first step is the evident, and the earliest declinein athletes. Sports that require high speed or power see their peak performance from 20 to 27 years old as opposed to those who engage in endurance sports are a bit later but are still young adults. It's not surprising that no one expects an athlete who is serious to stay in the game until they reach age sixty. The majority players I spoke to in this book (there isn't a survey that asks what age people anticipate experiencing declining physical performance, which is why I began to ask questions informally) thought they'd have to discover a new field of work when they reached the age of thirty. They may not like this fact however, they have to face it.
This is a very different tale in the present-day world of "knowledge workers"-most people who read this book, I'd bet. For those who work in fields that require thoughts and intelligence, not athletic skills and significant physical strength, nearly everyone isn't expecting to see to lose their strength before they reach 70; Some even later. In contrast to athletes they're not facing the reality.
Scientists are the best. Benjamin Jones, a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy within Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, has spent many years researching the age at which people tend to make important scientific discoveries that are prize-winning and lead to inventions. Examining the major inventions as well as Nobel winners that span over a century, Jones concludes that the average age of discovery for great discoveries is in the late 30s. He demonstrates that the chance of making a significant discovery rises gradually through the twenties and thirties , but then drops significantly in one's forties, fifties and the sixties. There are exceptions however. However, the chance of creating an important breakthrough at seventy-eight is about the same as the chance at twenty-nearly zero.
The fact that it was a fact surely inspired Paul Dirac, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist an elegiac poem about the fact that age is a scientist's curse. The poem concludes with two phrases:
He's better off dead than living
at the time he has reached his thirty-year mark.
Dirac received the award when he was just thirty-one years old for his work during his mid-twenties. When he turned thirty the scientist had created an overall theory of quantum fields which was the field where he earned the PhD in Cambridge (at the age of twenty-four). When he was twenty-eight, he wrote The Principles of Quantum Mechanics the textbook that is that is still used today. When he turned thirty, he was an adjunct instructor at Cambridge. After that? He was a scholarly scholar and also made some breakthroughs. However, it wasn't as early as. Thus his poem.
Of of course, Nobel winners might be distinct from ordinary scientists. Jones and co-authors, dug into the information on scientists in chemistry, physics, and medicine with high-quality work that was cited in addition to patents and awards. They discovered that peak performance occurs at a later age than they did in the past, mostly due to the expertise required for cutting-edge research has grown exponentially throughout the years. However, as of 1985, the maximum age isn't old for physicists - fifty; for chemical engineers, forty-six, and for medicine forty-five. Then, the rate of innovation decreases rapidly.
Other fields of knowledge have the same basic structure. For writers, the decline set between 40 and fifty-five. Financial professionals peak in performance between 36 and 40. Doctors, for instance: they are most effective at the age of thirty-six, and have dramatic declines in skills as they age. It's nice to find a doctor who has a similarity to people my age to Marcus Welby, MD. However, a recent Canadian study looked at the medical practices of 80 percent of anesthesiologists in the United States and the patient lawsuits against them over a 10-year time period. Researchers found that doctors who are over sixty-five years old are 50 percent more likely than doctors younger (under fifty-one) to be held guilty of medical malpractice.
Entrepreneurs are a fascinating case when they reach their peak age. Tech entrepreneurs often enjoy huge fortune and fame during their 20s however, many of them are in decline as creative at the age of thirty. In the Harvard Business Review has reported that the founders of companies funded by at least $1 billion with venture capital usually fall between the twenty-to-thirty-four age bracket. The percentage of founders who are who are older, the authors observed is very extremely low. Some scholars disagree with this conclusion by claiming that the average age of founders in the most successful start-ups is in reality, forty-five. The fact is the same: at middle age, the ability to be entrepreneurial has been declining. According to those with the highest expectations, just five percent founders over sixty.
The trend isn't just exclusive to the knowledge-based field the noticeable decline in aging occurs sooner than many people believe for skilled positions ranging from police to nursing. The best performance ranges from 30 to forty-four years old for engineers of equipment and service and office workers. It is 40-55-54 for semi-skilled assembly or mail sorters. The decline in the age of air traffic controllers is so severe-and the consequences of mistakes caused by decline are so severe that the required retirement age is 56.
The rate of decline can be predicted so well that a scholar has created an astonishingly precise model to predict it in particular occupations. Dean Keith Simonton from the University of California, Davis was able to study the pattern of decline in the professional world for those who work in the creative field and created an estimate of the typical shape of a person's professional career. By adjusting curves to gigabytes of information, he produced an image of a graph similar to the figure 1.
The average top of the creative career occurs around 20 years after starting a career This is the reason why the average person begins to fall between the ages of thirty and fifty. This averages across a wide range of fields Simonton and Simonton discovered a lot of variance. For instance, he's studied how to calculate the "half-life" of many professions-the time at which the majority of the work is completed. This would roughly be in line, on average, to the top of the graph. One group that closely follows the 20-year half-life of novelists is who typically complete half of their work prior to and the other half after 20.4 years after the start in their careers as writers. Close to this are mathematicians who have half-lifes that is 21.7 years. The poets are a bit earlier who have reached their half-life at 15.4 years. Geologists are a bit later with a lifespan of 28.9 years.
Let's consider what this means for a minute. Let's say you're in a quantitative area- you are an analyst of data, for instance. If you graduate from college and begin your career at 22 years old, you'll in the average, reach your career peak around forty-four, and then begin to lose your expertise. Imagine you're freshly graduated from a poetry program and have master's in fine arts at twenty-five. Simonton's statistics show that you'll burn through your entire life's work until the age of forty. You will experience a decline in productivity at the time of. However when you're geologist, your highest point is likely to be close to the age of fifty-four.
My experience is that the first decline in my life is a personal matter.
When I began my research I was keen to find out if the decline patterns could be applied to classical musicians. There are many notable instances that classical performers continue and on, playing to the end of their lives. The year 1945 saw double bassist Jane Little joined the Atlanta Symphony at the age of 16. She retired seventy-one more years later when she was 87. (Well she didn't retire, she actually passed away in a stage performance while singing "There's No Business Like Show Business.")
Mrs. Little is not the typical, but the majority are retired much earlier. In fact, it is way too late. According to surveys classical musicians say that their peak performance is when one is in his thirties. Younger players are often annoyed by the top spots that are occupied by those who are older and have tenure-based orchestras. with tenure, much like universities. They remain in the same spot long after having been beaten down. But the issue is that older players are often unable to admit that they've lost their edge even to themselves. "It's very hard to admit that it's time," said a fifty-eight year-old French trumpeter of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. "We're expert at denial. We have been successful because we refuse to accept the overwhelming odds at making it in our profession, so early in our development denial is a positive."
That French trumpet player wasn't my. It could be in a parallel world.
When I was a kid I had only one goal that was to be the best French trumpet player. I would practice my horn for hours for hours and hours every day, in every band I could find. I kept pictures of famous players hanging on my bedroom walls to inspire me. I attended all the most prestigious music festivals and worked with the most renowned teachers for children in lower-middle-class schools in Seattle. It was my turn to be the top player, and the first to sit in the chair.
At times I pondered whether my life's ambitions could come true. When I was 19 years old, I quit college to begin as a professional musician in the touring chamber-music group. We played a hundred shows every year, and traveled across the country in an enormous van. I did not have health insurance, and the rent days were always a bit stressful at the age of twenty-one , I had been to every state in the fifty states as well as fifteen countries around the world and recorded albums that I'd occasionally listen to at the radio. My goal was to climb to the top of the classical music ranks as I entered my twenties, to join an orchestra of the highest quality in the next few years and then be a soloist. It's the highest position that one can get as a classical musician.
However, when I was in my early twenties a peculiar phenomenon occurred: I began becoming worse. Today I don't know what caused it. My technique started to deteriorate and I could not find an reason to explain it. There was nothing that helped. I saw famous teachers and continued to practice but couldn't return to the level I was. Pieces that were simple to play changed into difficult pieces that were difficult were difficult to play.