Build a Portfolio Career

Building a Portfolio Career

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Your Midlife Mindset

Here is a story for you to ponder:

There were two woodcutters named Jim and Shaun working for a timber merchant. They both went together to the forest in the early morning to cut wood and then return by evening. They both, however, worked differently.

Jim would slog for ten hours to cut a tree and pile up the wood blocks.

Shaun would not been seen for hours and would arrive at the wood cutting area much later than Jim. But within two to three hours he had cut and collected more wood than his friend. 

Jim wondered how Shaun was able to cut so much wood in such a short time. Even working as hard and as fast as he could, Jim couldn’t match Shaun’s productivity. Jim even began to wonder if Shaun possessed any magical powers.

So one day Jim went to Shaun and asked him how he could achieve so much in such a short time.

Shaun replied, "There is nothing magical about it. I sit down and sharpen my axe for four hours and then I start cutting the wood. Because my tools are sharp, I can perform the task efficiently. But you never do that. That is why it takes you so much time to do the work with blunt tools." 

Are you a Jim or are you a Shaun? Many midlifers fall into the ‘Jim’ trap. They rely on the skills that they have used for a long time and wonder why their (younger?) colleagues perform better than them. If you are in midlife, make sure that you sharpen your skills by keeping them up to date. Learn new skills and put your self forward for training courses whenever the opportunity arises.

If you don’t do this and redundancy looms, your colleagues with better (sharper) transferable skills will find new employment before you do.

And they won’t be blaming ageism in the workplace in the same way that you will be…

Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here


  1. That is so true. But I am also finding out as I talk to younger people when I say things like, my blog or I Skpye, they look at me and say, "you know how to do all that." We really do know alot more than our younger counterparts. I try to learn something new everyday, it is important to me to as you say to, "sharpen my skills."

  2. Good for you Billie, by sharpening your skills, you'll also have a longer and more fruitful second half to your life.
    Thanks for following The Mid Life Opportunity.