If you’re in your 40s and you’ve been studying law and you’re fed up and you don’t enjoy it and it didn’t really connect to you, you’re not going to suddenly quit law and become a rock star. It’s not realistic. You don’t have the energy. You don’t have the good looks anymore. It’s not gonna happen. You’ve got to work with what you have. So you take the skills that you’ve developed and you find a way to segue them, to deviate them onto a path that suits you better.
An example I give is a woman who interviewed me for a show. She has her own show now, very successful. She started off as a lawyer, which is a very common scenario. A lot of people get into law and they don’t really known why the hell they got into it. And she was fed up and she wanted to be a writer. So what she did is instead of quitting law and writing the great American novel, she decided she was going to write about legal journalism. She was going to write about things that pertained to the legal profession. It ended up working very well. She was successful at it and slowly she was able to shift it to something else – more to politics, to other forms of writing. Now she’s going to write a novel, maybe a courtroom novel based on the years that she has as a lawyer. She didn’t throw them out. She followed a path and she slowly deviated towards something that was more suited to her. But still in doing that she’s going through the steps that I talk about in the book. She’s serving an apprenticeship in journalism. She did find a mentor. It’s never too late to find a mentor.
Apprenticeships usually corresponds to your 20s but what I tell a lot of people who come to me and say "I’m in my 30s or 40s, is it too late for me?" It's never too late. I didn’t write my first book, The 48 Laws of Power, until I was 38. And then since then I've been writing books steadily. It’s never too late. But the most important thing is is to be realistic and practical.
It’s never too late to find a mentor unless you’re maybe in your 60s or 70s. There are ways to find your way back to the path that you were meant to follow in life. It’s just the path is a little different if you’re in your 30s or 40s or 50s.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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