The Art of Reinvention
A growing number of the conversations I am having in my Life and Business Coaching practice revolve around Baby Boomers who have had impactful and successful careers. They have sold their companies, or left their powerful positions, either by choice or coercion, and are dealing with decompression. A question of “what’s next?”, “how do I stay relevant?”, or “who am I now?”
Big, powerful, questions. Feelings of overwhelm, and powerlessness creep in.
I began thinking about this from another prism the other day when I walked into a gastropub and saw a poster for an ESPN fight card from the early 1990’s.
This was the heyday for television boxing in our generation as ESPN and USA both held weekly televised cards. The revival of this was spearheaded by George Foreman.
Big George had ended an unprecedented twelve year retirement from the sport as a thirty eight year old. George took it to the streets in a grassroots movement to gain fan base and began to generate product endorsements and speaking engagements.
But this was not the same George Foreman anyone remembered. The Foreman of the late 1960’s into the mid 1970’s was a monster. A glowering, powerful, angry destruction machine who had battered Joe Frazier, pulverized Ken Norton and won a war of attrition with Ron Lyle. All highlight reels.
This George Foreman was a smiling, thoughtful, self deprecating donut eating middle age guy, living his dream of chasing another Heavyweight title. He was just like the rest of us, chasing a dream that seemed too far away to actually reach.
George accepted what he had become. He had reinvented himself on the streets of Houston for ten years preaching at a hand to mouth parish.
Where he had been a thug in the ring in the 1970’s, now he was a guy everyone cheered for. He would say things like “every time you open your mouth, you are making a commercial.”
And he kept winning.
When sports commentators would say “your opponents are all stiffs!”, George would smile and say “Nope. Some of them were still on ventilators.”
He told the media he trained on Cheeseburgers, and got an endorsement with Fat Burger, and eventually became pitchman and part owner of the George Foreman Grill. He went deep into eight figures of earnings with that deal.
He fought Evander Holyfield for the Undisputed Heavyweight title and lost a decision, but had his moments, and put up a competitive fight. He kept fighting and winning. And after losing to Tommy Morrison, got another shot against Michael Moorer, and won the Undisputed Heavyweight at age 45, over twenty years after he had lost it.
George tapped into his own authenticity. He remade himself, not as he remembered himself, but as he was at that time. His was the ultimate reinvention.
We each have this capacity. To define our goals, to to set out to achieve them, and to let our new selves figure out the way to get there. The secret is trust. To trust ourselves, and like Big George, to let go of the debris of the past, and to love ourselves enough to let it happen.