Do you think your age is passing you by?
Do you have friends who were once at the same stage and now have pulled ahead in their careers and you feel you are still languishing in an old job?
Well, fret not. You are in elite company.
Whatever your craft is, stay at it and keep working away. Success would soon follow. At least, this is what the concept of blooming late in life is.
None other than the charismatic Malcolm Gladwell brought late bloomers to the fore in his book What the dog saw.
He explains that Picasso fits the conventional definition of a prodigy as he accomplished a lot at a young age. Paul Cézanne doesn’t because he produced all his major work towards the fag end of his career.
Cézanne belonged to the brotherhood of late bloomers.
If you go by the rules of conventional wisdom, then, genius is when you accomplish great feats at an early age.
For example, Wolfgang Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto at the age of 21. Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook at 19 and in four years, he was a billionaire. These are your conventional geniuses.
In short, late bloomers are people who arrive late to the party. They know they have what it takes and spend years working on their craft, but the Aha moment comes late.
Now this could be due to two reasons: a) they are initially not good in their work and gain momentum only later in their life or b) they are not in the right place at the right time. Hence, market may recognize their skills quite late.
I am sharing a list of 10 late bloomers who did it despite crossing into what many perceive as the wrong side of age –
Late Bloomers who did it
Danie Defoe (b. 1660) The great English writer’s work Robinson Crusoe comes second only to the Bible in its total number of translations.
A few years later, he followed it up with his first work of nonfiction called A Journal of The Plague Year.
What is more surprising is that Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe – his only second attempt at fiction writing, at a ripe age of 59.
Charles Darwin published his seminal work On the Origin of Species at age 50. The first lot of 1250 copies sold out as soon as it when it went on sale.
The book turned out be a distillation of his life work that started from collecting specimens of dead plants and insects at an early age and continued to his voyage on the ship HMS Beagle.
As Robert Greene mentions in his book Mastery, Darwin was far from an exceptional genius, but he always had the skills of a craftsman.
Joseph Conrad (b. 1857) is regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. Born in Poland, he did not speak English fluently until his twenties.
He wrote his first English short story at the age 29 which wasn’t accepted by any publication. He kept plugging away.
At 39, with the publication of his second novel An Outcast of the Islands, Conrod put himself on the map.
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Colonel Sanders (b. 1890). The story of Col Sanders starts from the point where most people hang their shoes to ease into the comfort of retirement.
In his early-60s selling he was peddling his secret recipes to individual restaurants. His recipe was rejected 1,009 times before anyone accepted it.
Actually he built Kentuck Fried Chicken (KFC) with his own hands. At 65, he sold his first restaurant and at 73, he sold the brand KFC for $2 million to a group of investors.
Alfred Hitchcock (b. 1899) Hitchcock got into the movie business in his 20s and directed his first film when he was only 24.
Yes, he was successful in his early forays, but his transformation into an auteur didn’t happen until 1958.
In the three years that followed, he gave three masterpieces – Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959) and his most shocking work Psycho (1960).
Vera Wang (b. 1941) only wrote about fashion until 38 when she was working with the fashion magazine, Vogue.
At 41, she took her experience as a fashion editor and a two year stint with Ralph Lauren to launch her own line of designer bridal wear.
Once she struck out on her own, there was absolutely no looking back – one milestone followed after anothe. Her networth is estimated to be in the proximity of $650 million.
Stan Lee (b. 1922) conceptualized The Fantastic Four when he was 39. A one company man, Stan Lee worked for Marvel for 60+ years.
Along with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created the famed Marvel Universe and such characters as Spiderman, The Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther and The Hulk.
But you’d be surprised to learn that when he died, he had a relatively minor networth of $50 million. Do read this amazing article which explains why it turned out to be so.
Samuel Jackson (b. 1948) – Before his big break as the Biblical-verse-spouting, thunderous gunman in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Jackson was a small fish in the Hollywood pond.
He was 46 when he bagged the role and ever since he hasn’t looked back. Look at this report if you don’t believe me.
Michael Bloomberg (b. 1942) started Bloomberg LP at age 39. Before that, he spent 15 years working with Salomon Brothers in equity trading.
He was sacked by the new management when he was 39.
With the severance check, he started Bloomberg LP. Initially a tech firm, he expanded it to cover the media. By 1996, he was a billionaire.
Bertha Wood (b. 1905) became the world’s oldest first-time author when she published her first book, Fresh Air and Fun: The Story of a Blackpool Holiday Camp on her 100th birthday on June 20, 2005.
Apparently, the book was based on her memoirs which she started writing at 90. Bertha passed awaywhen she was 102 years old. I came across this beautiful obituary from her son published right after her death, do give it a read to get fascinating insights into her life.
Robert Frost, the great American poet, once said, “Young people have insight. They have a flash here and a flash there. It is like the stars coming out in the early evening. They have flashes of light. It is later in the dark of life that you see forms, constellations. And it is the constellations that are philosophy…“
Frost himself wrote his most anthologized poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” at the age of 48.
It really doesn’t matter what age you are as long as you are not giving up on your dreams and are ready to put in the work. Big success may have eluded you, but it may very well be around the corner. Don’t stop working, don’t stop dreaming.
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