The Unconventional CEO – Peaking

The Unconventional CEO

Chapter 77 – We have all seen child prodigies and witnessed the uneven hand of nature that dumped effusive talents on a single individual. It was so unfair to the rest of us. Well, our generous applause drowned out the petty jealousies, didn’t it?

Now you’re King of the Hill and you probably weren’t born there either. Perhaps you were the prodigy or the red-haired stepchild. This does not matter anymore. Welcome to the Peaking Theory!

Everyone peaks sometime in life, but not everyone traces a lofty arc through the heavens. An exceptional few may peak more than once. You have a choice on when you would want to peak. So when will it be?

Many of our contemporaries peaked in high school, never again climbing the podium of exultation, or waving down a crowd of admirers. School is a small world with a limited number of age-related competitors. Others peaked a bit later, and became the Big Man on Campus.  These were rarely the school stars. Then onto real life, where the competition is open to all ages and all countries. This is the Olympics of Life.

If you kept your best for this crowded run, then congratulations. Peak when you’re in your early 60s, because that will give you a long and interesting life of continuous achievement to hone your way.

The late, Fred du Plessis, who became Chairman of Sanlam, a large South African insurance company, was at one time a lecturer at my Alma Mater. He continued to visit annually to motivate the newly elected Student Council. I followed his advice…

“Don’t get serious about life until you’re 30. You have energy and no experience. Get experience.

Decide what you’re good at between 30 and 40 and work at it.

At 40, decide what you’re going to be when you’re grown up and then concentrate your energy and experience on it.

At 50 you will have the wisdom of choices.”

He didn’t elaborate further. This worked for me, albeit in an age that has long gone. This Peaking Theory grew from living this life and marking passage in achieving my way. I followed my dream and celebrated my third Stock Exchange listing the day before I turned 50. I still intend to peak at 70. My investment in something better is continuing, I have another listing lined up, and a first international venture is being rolled out. The same target-setting should hold true for you.

Your tenure will be limited. The average for a hired CEO is about three to five years. What will be next for you? Where will you be when you intend to peak? What will it take? It’s time to decide. Then pace yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.


The Unconventional CEO offers succinct, compelling advice from a successful CEO Mario Pretorius, to you The Cape Messenger reader.

The book is also available to purchase in full from the Amazon store.

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