It seems like there’s been quite a few movies in the last couple years that deal with the changing of the guard from older to younger. And as the boomers start to retire I’m sure that theme will become more popular. One of the great lessons I learned playing sports into college is how every year (every game sometimes) someone is gaining ground on you in hopes of taking your position.
And professionally in media production I’ve watched the transition cycle a few times. I watched the old adage of “You don’t want to be a jack-of-all trades” that I learned in school be turned upside down today. I remember what it was like being 25-years old doing a 16mm shoot in Aspen, Colorado where everyone else in production seemed 100 years old and I’ve been on shoots more recently where all of the sudden I’m the old guy. (At the 48 Hour Film Project/Des Moines a couple weeks back the winner for Best Special Effects was 15-years-old. I have light meters that are more than 15 years old!)
One way to look at these transitions is to look at the ebb and flow of the surf. There is a cycle of change there that is healthy to embrace. Since I mentioned nine time surfing champion Kelly Slater yesterday I thought it would be good to find a quote from him to see how he, at age 37, handles the pressure of being the old guy on the tour with plenty of young talent from around the world gunning for him.
“When there’s a generational change, there’s a change in the way things are done. And people who are stuck in their ways and don’t want to see change are the first ones to be vocal about it. And I feel totally supportive because I’m still trying to take my surfing to different levels and that’s exciting for me. Because, honestly, there were times when I first got on tour that I was bored with the level of surfing. And I’d much rather be getting my ass kicked than being bored.”
Interview by Matt Walker
What a great mindset to have. Slater is not focused on trying to stay young, or to hold on to the past, but to continue to raise his skill level. And one of the things that pushes him is seeing the 22-year-olds doing radical moves just like he did when he joined the tour more than fifteen years ago.
I’ll keep that in mind next week when I have a shoot in New York City with a talented young crew that’s probably going to be at least a decade younger than me. Another chance to grow.