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Blog Post: Old Dog New Tricks

Way back when I was at college the first time around (the years began with a 1 and a 9 back then), I would view mature students with a mix of pity and suspicion. Why would you come back to education when you’re that old? What has gone wrong with your career to drive you back here?

You know where this is going don’t you?

So here I am a mature student, starting a Masters degree in Innovation, Creativity & Leadership at Cass Business School, wondering if people are thinking the same things about me as I did about those mature students back in the last century. I can do nothing about the age factor, but I’d like to think nothing’s gone wrong. In fact it’s only because there’s a certain stability and modest level of success in my career that I could even think about investing the time or money into this endeavour. Despite what my nagging imposter syndrome would have me believe, it’s not about trying to correct something that has gone wrong  but for once try to proactively set up positive circumstances that will enable the next phase of my career to be more than a continuation of the work I’ve done so far. I want to see where I can go with the experience I’ve accumulated, and to fully explore that I feel as though there needs to be a little bit of constructive disruption (marketing buzzword klaxon).

It’s more than likely I, and many of us will be working long after the state retirement age. If I am going to be in that situation then I want it to be in a role of my choosing and something that I feel I can do well regardless of what my date of birth happens to be. That means brains over brawn. Having somehow contrived to attend higher education for four years and yet still not gain a degree, for me this means formalising the on-the-job experience I have accumulated over twenty or so years working in this sector. Trying to be smart, it also means not just accumulating that into something that validates my current position, but applies it to a new, complimentary and hopefully, future-proof area that I can transition into over time. The mid-life crisis in me did entertain the idea of art school and other purely vocational choices, not to mention a motorbike, but pragmatism and professional curiosity won out.

Why the blog? It’s certainly not to try and create a humble-brag about my “amazing, holistically curated super positive mindful life 2.0″. I have spoken to a number of colleagues, peers and friends about what I’m doing (a year and a half spent researching courses and institutions can make you quite the life improvement bore, apparently) and it appears to be a common thread amongst those of us who have reached a certain point in life. It’s not just about the age or the cliché, but from a genuine desire to remain open-minded, relevant and above all happy. I don’t want to settle, remain in my comfort zone and calcify. I want to have my assumptions challenged, horizons expanded and find out things about myself. That’s how I’ll cheat old age and irrelevance. I hope.

I’ll be sharing experiences, insights and probably some rambling rants, about what it’s like to go back to school, what I’m learning on the course, and navigating the world as a student and agency owner. Of course it’s entirely possible that I’ll be narrating my own nervous breakdown, but that will make it all the more compelling.

Here goes…

Paul Stanway | Creative Director – XYZ