I was ready to quit. I had been a goalkeeper for decades, and as I was surpassing the 30-year-old mark it seemed a good time to start thinking of chess as an extreme sport.
That summer, many, many years ago, I played a friendly soccer match. I did a great job, and so did the other keeper. After the match, he shook my hand and congratulated me. I smiled, and I told him that this was probably my last season.
“Why?” he asked.
“Well, I am kind of old, over 30 now”.
He frowned in disgust, severely disappointed by my answer.
“What!*%$!? I´m 42. And as you can see I am far from being too old to play!”
And man, did he have a point.
So today, preparing for the official league, I played with my umpteenth team, the Vallvidrera Senglars. I saved a penalty and got congratulated for my performance—at the age of 47. But more importantly, I loved every minute of it.
But, as I said, years ago I was going to make a big mistake. It was not my body saying I had to quit—it was my mind, sabotaging me with thoughts of a comfortable fate of fluffy couches, TV and pajamas.
The other day I heard of Diana Nyad. Maybe you have too; she attempted to cross from Cuba to the USA by swimming more than 100 miles in open seas. She was close to doing it, but an unexpected injury, an asthma attack and a very strong current made her desist after almost 30 hours of continuous effort.
That goal alone is remarkable, as no man or woman has ever accomplished it, but even more remarkable is the fact that she attempted it at the age of 61—with a bad shoulder.
And how inspiring has it been for me, as now I know that I can play official soccer for many years if I choose to do so. My wife may balk at the idea, but it´s clear that it is possible. (And besides, she always balks at everything.)
Diana declared that her body may not be as good as thirty years ago, but her mind is far stronger. As we lose some power here, our amazing mind takes over there.
But you have to let your mind dream, and let your dreams take command. You can go wherever you want. It’s just a matter of choice.
So remove those glass ceilings, and go for the gold. What’s the gold? Only you can answer this. You can try to be CIO if you are in IT. You can try to sit on the Board if you are already CIO. You can be the Chief Visibility Officer and make a difference. You can be another Steve Jobs and make a mark in the world.
And outside the office, you can aim for the moon.
You may fail, but remember: Diana trained twelve hours per day. Whatever you aim to do, it´s gonna cost you. Be ready to pay the price, which amounts to nursing a never-ending desire for learning, hard work, and discipline. Usually, it´s worth it: it will be your dream, but you´ll be awake to enjoy it.
The only thing you cannot try to be is goalkeeper for the Vallvidrera Senglars. That position is well covered, you know.