Tom Butler-Bowdon, author of the 50 Classics series, has a new book, Never Too Late to be Great: The Power of Thinking Long, that should provide considerable inspiration to many people who need it the most. Among those who should find it especially interesting and helpful are late bloomers, career changers, people in transition and even procrastinators. The premise is that significant success, even and especially in middle age and beyond, is possible if you think strategically in long enough time frames, while working hard and doing what is necessary to make it happen (e.g. additional learning, networking, and gaining experience in a field any way possible). And try not to be too impatient.
He is a master synthesizer of information who tells a story succinctly and effectively. A key message is that success is rarely preordained. Although the stories of Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Ray Kroc of McDonald’s have been told often, they still seem fresh here, especially when told from this vantage point. Hard work, diligence, a fierce entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity and vision for the future propelled people like Schultz and Kroc to success, not anything in their background. And I found particularly interesting the roots of Amnesty International and its founder Peter Benenson; and the Lonely Planet publishing empire, founded by Tony and Maureen Wheeler. Ditto the long climbs of such literary figures as the novelists Lionel Shriver and Vikram Seth.
Butler-Bowdon wrote the book when he was 43, and many of the examples are of people who did not find their greatest successes until they were 40 or older, some much older. He explains some of the main ideas from the book in a recent Huffington Post, Life Isn’t Short: What it Means For Your Success. I interviewed him in 2010 for my blog, and in 2008 I wrote about and interviewed him for USA TODAY. While his message is important for middle age people, I think that younger readers will also find inspiration in these examples. When you have potentially many years stretching ahead of you, thinking long from the start can give you a tremendous advantage, and even peace of mind.