Some things get better with age — wines mellow and so does balsamic vinegar. Classic music, both symphonic and rock, sounds better and better each time I hear it. Jeans and khakis get more comfortable, running shoes do too. To my eye, older Porsches, BMWs, and Alfas look even better over time. Hopefully, we human beings improve as well.
Although it’s probably true that there’s no fool like an old fool, there’s also no substitute for experience. As George W. said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
When I was in art school I remember being told that advertising was a young person’s business. I never understood why that was but I assumed it was because of creativity. Young people are creative, I thought, older people less so. I was wrong, of course, because what I’ve learned after years and years in the branding business is that lots of people get more creative as they age. Art Directors Hall of Fame member Mike Tesch started his agency career in the Mad Men 1960s and nearly 50 years later still cranks out prodigious amounts of paintings, books, and creative solutions for our clients. From Mike’s example I’ve learned that life experiences provide resources to call on for creativity.
One of the great things experience teaches, albeit often the hard way, are the things that should only be done once (if at all). For example, one need only touch a steaming teakettle one time to know never to do it again.
What are some of the other things that we’ve learned to do no more than once? I was walking with a very good friend of mine one day when we saw an acquaintance of his coming the other way. As we got closer he greeted her by name and inquired, “When are you expecting?”
“Expecting what?” she asked.
I immediately turned and walked the other way, but knew full well that I had just experienced something my friend would only do once.
In his song about “pool-shooting son-of-a-gun” ‘Big’ Jim Walker, Jim Croce listed a few other things you wouldn’t do more than once. “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim.”
So what else? If we’re all going to mellow like fine wine and get better with age, wouldn’t it make sense that we all learn the things we should only do once? I think this blog could be a great vehicle for crowdsourcing some ideas for this very important list.
What I’d like you to do is come up with your own suggestions of things you’ve learned you should do only once. Please click on the “COMMENTS” link at the end of this post and upload your tips for everyone to read. And if you feel like learning from other people’s mistakes, come back to the blog and check out the growing list.
In the meantime, here are a few ideas to get our list started: