Barbara Beskind is a lead design fellow at IDEO. She was awarded the position in 2016, when she was 92 years old. Beskind served as a major in the Army, worked in occupational therapy, and went on to fulfill her dream to work as a designer at an age most people would consider long past her prime.
Beskind, though incredibly inspiring, is not a unicorn. There are many people utilizing the insights and values that come with age to help them build a better world for themselves, their peers, and those to come. However, there can always be more.
Barbara Beskind’s design work focuses on helping aging adults make valuable contributions to society. In other words, help more people be like her. While her work is incredible, there is also a lot to be learned from her life. Each piece of advice on this list will help you smash age stereotypes just like her.
- Draw On Your Experiences – Aging adults have the amazing benefit of years of life experiences, and these experiences are what set them apart from younger generations. For example, Beskind grew up during the Great Depression. Her family didn’t have a lot of money, so she had to make her own clothes and toys. She cultivated this ingenuity, and turned it into a career almost 100 years later. Beskind details her upbringing in her book Powder Keg, an autobiography you’d do well to check out.
- Embrace Adversity – The old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is all too true in Beskind’s case. Growing up poor and surrounded by tragedy, she learned from a young age that adversity only makes her stronger.
- Take Responsibility – Though businesses and companies have a responsibility to reach out to older workers, aging adults also have a responsibility to stand up for themselves in the business world. Beskind stresses how important it is for adults to take responsibility for their wok by pursuing roles that keep them relevant and engaged. Reach out to companies that interest you, or check out sites like com that have job boards specifically for older workers.
- Avoid Walkers – Beskind hates walkers and recliners, as she believes they encourage awful posture and lead to even more physical limitations. Instead, she recommends finding a personalized solution that fits your needs. She uses customized ski poles to get around better. If designing a personalized walking assistance system isn’t your forte, you can look into walker alternatives like this one.
- Stay Positive – Beskind stresses that the main reason behind her long productive life is her attitude. She’s committed herself to maintaining a good sense of humor and pursuing lifelong learning, which are two things everyone can benefit from.
- Embrace Your Limitations – Finally, Beskind advices not to hide or be embarrassed about the limitations that come with age. Rather, she encourages everyone to leverage technology and gumption to make the best of their limitations.
We may not all see our lifelong dreams come to fruition after the age of 90 like Barbara Beskind, but it is definitely possible for every single person to live a full life that defies all age stereotypes.
How will you apply Beskind’s lessons to your life? Tell us below in the comment section. Don’t forget to check back for more helpful tips coming soon.