Recently, I watched the Olympics, have done so for many years and always made sure I never missed the premier event: the 100 meter sprint. In the past names like Jessie Owens, Bob Hayes, Carl Lewis come to mind. Each was Olympic Gold Medalists and World Record holders. Incredibly and in increments, each man bettered the standards. They were extra ordinary, the best at the time, and the world waited and expected stronger and faster. The Games were good for that. Each venue whether it be swimming, track and field, weight lifting and so forth, records fell and new heroes climbed the podium and sang their national anthem. These super-like human beings accomplished the impossible. To match or break records were expected but doing so required talent, dedication, support and hard work beyond comprehension. Rewards fed the fever and the Bob Beamons, Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolts appear, demolishing and achieving performance levels perhaps never to be out done. To many, this is perfection, at least conceptionally. What this means is that someone now or in the future sees world records only to be broken.
In my other blog http://www.babyboomersensei.blogspot.com I've logged multiple hits on a post I wrote regarding seniors deciding to take martial arts. (see http://babyboomersensei.blogspot.com/2012/03/baby-boomers-and-martial-arts.html)
I did it right by starting martial arts training when I was in college: flexible, strong, athletic and injury free. Now in my late 50's complete with artritic joints and old age, I can relate to the challenges of attempting an activity like karate. Learning or persuing something new as a senior is not that impossible. It's just not as easy as when you were younger. Lean Six Sigma on older established companies face similar barriers. Management and employees adverse to change are like the arthritic joints and atrophied muscles in a badly abused body screaming bloody murder when forced to execute unfamiliar movements and techniques.
As a karate instructor, I noticed parents day-after-day would sit by the side and observe classes, making sure their children were being taken care of. I never could figure it out; it's like they can't tell me how to teach or anything. Later I realize that, as bystanders, they were learning techniques as non-participant observers. Japanese karate, compared to other martial arts, wasn't that difficult, few variations with a lot of repetition. Once basic kihons and katas were learned, training was routine and at times boring. So while sitting those many sessions by the side, learning of some sort did occur.
As time passed when children become adults, parents transitioned into senior citizens saying it's their time after all those years of sitting on the bench to achieve karate black belts as part of their check on a bucket list.
Anything is possible.
As a Lean Six Sigma technician, I've noticed that extra-ordinary and old folks like myself are open minded and willing to take chances and do what it takes to continuously improve and make life and the world a better place. Improvements can be world class, or they can be something small and personal.
World and personal records aren’t broken by being happy with status quo, it's acheived by believing in the mindset that the impossible is possible, and that unbroken things can be made better. Of course, if something is broken, use the right tool for the right job to fix it.