“A roadmap for finding purpose, meaning, and success as we age.”
All professionals will face an inevitable decline in performance because of aging. Studies show that when smart ambitious people who chase power and achievement early in their careers experience this decline, they become unhappy. In Strength to Strength, Arthur Brooks uses the examples of a well-known person he encounters on a plane and Charles Darwin. Both were very successful early in their careers. But in later years, even though both were still famous, they were unhappy because they could no longer live up to their past accomplishments.
The bad news is that the decline comes sooner than we expect. Brooks call’s this the striver’s curse. And his book is about how to avoid it and lead a happy life as you age. We can achieve this by transferring from an old strength to a new strength.
There are two types of intelligence: fluid and crystallized. Fluid intelligence is our ability to reason, think flexibly and solve problems. Crystallized intelligence is a person’s accumulated knowledge and the understanding of how things connect together. Fluid intelligence is better when we are younger whereas crystallized peaks as we get older.
Smart intelligent people tend to rely a lot on their fluid intelligence and when that declines, they fail to make the transition to crystallized intelligence. This failure leads to unhappiness because they can no longer keep up with younger people.
We can avoid this fate in three ways: 1. Transition to using our crystallized intelligence; 2. Do fewer things; and 3. Prioritize our social relationships. Brooks offers very practical advice on how to do these things.
I recommend this book to all professionals, especially those who are overachievers, and even those who are just beginning their careers, because it offers ways to lead a more joyful, satisfied life and to prepare for the future.