Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement” Rich Karlgaard

Rating: 4/5

I’ll start this one off with Karlgaard’s definition of a late bloomer, “…a late bloomer is a person who fulfils their potential later than expected; they often have talents that aren’t visible to others initially.” (page 14).

I appreciate that this book was part science, part history, and mostly about possibility. Karlgaard does a great job of balancing those three aspects in a readable and digestible way. He gives strong scientific arguments why so many people bloom later in life, talks about the history of how we’ve become obsessed with early achievers, outlines the many negative aspects of being a society that over values early achievement and disregards anyone who is ‘past their prime,’ and suggests a number of ways that we can embrace the late bloomer in ourselves and in others. The formula for this book reminded me of another favourite read, “Quiet,” by Susan Cain.

This book is hopeful and inspiring. It gives hope to anyone who might think they are old to learn, try something new, and/or feel that they can’t keep up with those that are younger. And PS) that feeling is completely relative; you can be 65 and feel like you can’t keep up with a 50 year old, you can be 50 and feel like you can’t keep up with a 35 year, old or you can be 35 and feel like you can’t keep up with a 25 year old. This book is also hopeful for young people who may feel an intense pressure to, ‘make it early,’ and, ‘have all of the answers now.’ And for employers, it is a great reminder that young people bring a certain set of qualities (e.g., energy, tech savvy, speed, etc.) and mature people bring a different set of qualities (e.g., curiosity, compassion, insights, resilience, and wisdom). My takeaway…we all have something to contribute at any age.

As a self-identified late bloomer, this book really resonated with me. I just turned 49 and am embarking on the biggest career change of my life. I have just quit my excellent job of 10 years to start my own business. Ack! It’s scary and although this has been along time in the making, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have moments where I thought, “I’m too old to make this change.” Even as I admit my age in this post (and to anyone who will read this), I feel a momentary fear of judgment from others. So, this was a well-timed read for me!

I started this post with a quote and will end with another one, “To create a prosperous society of fulfilled individuals, it makes sense, therefore, to have a kinder clock of human development. Every person needs to have the chance – multiple chances, really – to follow their unique timeline of evolving brains, talents, and passions.” (page 77).