When will you Die Daddy?

A charming question asked me by my 4-year-old daughter this weekend.   I didn’t know the answer so I had a search in line for some statistics.

In Ancient Rome life expectancy at birth was 28 years old.  If you made it through your first 15 years (avoiding all the horrific causes of child mortality) you could expect to live to the ripe old age of 52.

A thousand years later In Medieval Britain the average expectancy at birth was 30 rising to 64 if you made it through your teens

But now we are all living longer

The numbers stay roughly the same until the turn of the 20th century and then they climb dramatically.  Currently the world average life expectancy at birth is 69 years.  In the UK we can expect to live till the age of 80.  I couldn’t find the stats for healthy men in his mid 40’s, but I suspect the chances are I will be the thick end of 90 when I die.

We are all living longer.

So the answer to my daughter’s innocent question is in about 45 year’s time.  I am halfway there.

What are we doing with all that extra time?

My chances of retiring at 60 are vanishingly small.  I will have to work.  For many of us that means pushing technology forward and developing new ways of tackling old problems.  Here are a few more statistics for you:

The rate of growth of information is staggering, and that information manifests itself in advances in telecommunications, medicine, banking, zoo keeping… With the possible exception of morris dancing the world is moving on in every way.  And moving quickly.

We live in changing times

On the one hand, we are all living longer than ever and on the other technology is changing by the year.  When did you buy your last video cassette?  When will you buy your last DVD?

My Grand Father was born in the same year that the Wright brothers made their first flight.  He died the year man landed on the moon.  I was born that same year, who knows what we will be doing when I die in 45 years time.

And you have to change with them

It used to be OK to leave school at 16 with an education, and then stop learning and go to work.  After all nothing much changed until you retired.

Now though unless you apply yourself to your own learning and development you will be out of the race by the time you are 30.  And what is true for you is also true for your employees, your organisation and your competitors.

Better have a rethink about the size of that training budget.

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Image by mikecough

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  1. Hi James,
    Great post.

    Two points:
    – It should still be OK to leave school at 16 for young people that want to do so if they want to work and continue to learn and develop on the job.
    – I think that just thinking about the size of our training budget may be missing the point and may be old thinking that is applied to a new problem. It may be more about how we use our training budget and how we apply ourselves to learning and development. More pedagogy of the same flavour may not be the answer.

    What do you think?


    • James Lawther says:

      Absolutely, leave school if that is right for you, but I would council against leaving school and never learning another thing.

      There is a trite old saying “A day without learning is a day wasted.”

      Trite but probably true


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