Posts Tagged ‘Peter Principle’

Reader interest in the dearth and death of Sir Peters calls for analysis of the obvious corollary of a dwindling supply of Peters generally. No, not coronary, although that could well be a primary cause of their disappearance.

In fact, given the advanced age of the Peter population, heart disease may have dealt with many of them. Think of any Peters you know personally: most are sixty plus, with a few in their fifties, and my forty year old son-in-law. Co-founder of Paypal Peter Thiel is aged 43. Seriously, there are no Peters in their 20s or 30s or younger. Except Europe’s Youngest Stunt Rider.

The name of Jesus’ favourite apostle doesn’t even appear in the Top 100 Boy Names List for 2013. What’s happening, people? Even Elliott gets a mention along with Carson (are you kidding: son of car?) and Eli. Aiden is in second spot, after eight years as number one! It’s not even spelt correctly: the place is called Aden. Exclamation marks galore.

It’s all over for the Peters, bar the shouting. Which means you all shouting drinks for us remaining Peters until we sail off into the sunset. A precious diminishing resource to be enjoyed while we last. Imagine a world without Peters. At least my grandson has it for his middle name. Maybe the music group ‘Peter, Bjorn & John’ may lead to a resurgence of Peter babies, but it’s not looking good at this stage.

The race is on to become the last one standing. My SIL is short odds. No need to run Blue Peter up the flagpole yet though, as there’s no sunset sailing here. By the way, Blue Peter is the world’s longest-running children’s TV show, in Britain since 1958. See how we last? But what will happen to the Peter principle? So many questions still unanswered.


Blue Peter fair wind


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As some wit put it, the great thing about getting old is that it beats the alternative. As baby boomers face their inevitable physical decline, and philosophise about life and the d-word, the sharing of practical wisdom can be useful too. The importance of fitness is a subject dear to our hearts, so to speak, but it can lead to some surprising conclusions.

Recent newspaper discussion about obsessive fitness prompted input from 71 year old Peter Halstead of Budds Beach, who claimed that super-fitness can lead to depression. For decades peers had admired his fitness, and he’d maintained an abnormally high level exercise program into his mid-sixties, when disaster struck. He started getting old! Now he is less fit than others of his age group because of this obsession, citing worn-out knees from too much running and squats, and spine degeneration from too much weight training. Apart from the painkiller regime, he’ll soon have surgery to remove a pre-cancerous lung lesion, which he puts down to lots of jogging in city traffic. Now Peter is depressed.

Peter seems to be a baby boomer name, and KC’s gerontology reporter of the same name has been thinking along similar lines following an incident three years ago. After 30 years of trouble-free running a knee suddenly protested that its meniscus was worn and torn, resulting in clean-up surgery. No warning all that time, and then bang! The running regime had been a daily 40 minute jog, reduced to 3 times weekly in recent years, but no marathons or other excess. Of course each of us is a unique combination of build and bio-mechanics, and the surgeon would not agree that it was payback, citing much younger patients with the same injury. The famous writer Haruki Murakami (‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’) is still running marathons at 62, so his unique endowment is going strong. It will be interesting to see at what point he starts getting old.

The famous Peter Principle – from a light-hearted (that word again!) 1969 management book (co-authored by Dr Laurence J Peter) – is that in organisational life a person rises to their level of incompetence. No, it’s not about the incompetence of Peters generally, just to avoid any misunderstanding. The two Peters of our story are separated in age by a decade, but they have reached a similar conclusion. The new Peter Principle is very simple: ‘moderation in everything’. And the beauty of this principle is that, like beauty itself, moderation is in the eye of the beholder. So, Banzai, Haruki!

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