Young Wendy sitting on a basketball

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Long before becoming a journalist and author, I was a skinny kid in North Carolina who dreamed of one day being an athlete. But if words came easily to me, muscles, speed and coordination did not!

It wasn’t until age 45, after overhearing someone put the question above (“What do you want to be…?”) to a little girl, that my own competitive athletic journey finally began in the daunting sport of obstacle course racing. And as counterintuitive as it seems in our quick fix, hack-prone society, it turns out the long, never-finished road of mastery may be one of the best mental and physical defenses we have to age well.

That’s the story I tell in Not Too Late. The book is about the power of working to get good at something new and hard at any age – and a roadmap for action. (Spoiler alert: You don’t have to become ‘the best’ to reap real rewards.)

Anchoring Not Too Late is wisdom from scientists, longevity specialists, a philosopher, and performance experts that demonstrates how our bodies and minds can evolve in critical ways well past middle age. The tactics I learned from them, and from the thousands of leaders I interviewed during 20 years of reporting at The Wall Street Journal, now underpin the writing and speaking I do about leadership and change. We all face obstacles, real and perceived, in everything we do. It’s how we approach them that matters.

Gwendolyn (Wendy) Bounds

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Not Too Late book cover

Not Too Late

The Power of Pushing Limits at Any Age

In Not Too Late, author Gwendolyn Bounds takes readers on the journey of her unexpected five-year path of transformation from an unathletic office executive glued to her screens into an age-group medalist and world championship competitor in obstacle course racing — a demanding military-style sport requiring speed, endurance, mobility, and strength.

In the book, Bounds explores how tackling something new and hard upended her expectations for middle age — while also helping her reconcile regrets of her youth. Her story takes us from playgrounds and gyms, where Bounds relearns childhood movements (swinging from monkey bars, climbing a rope); to far-flung Spartan Race courses, where she strives to master running in difficult terrain and to conquer challenges such as scaling tall walls, crawling under barbed wire, and carrying heavy loads of rocks up mountains.

Bounds’s journey offers inspiration and a road map for anyone craving more out of life. Woven through Not Too Late are insights from scientists, longevity doctors, a philosopher, elite athletes, and performance experts on how to reimagine our limits and who we think we are.

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Author photo (top): Jennifer Barrett, New Light Creative Services.
Obstacle illustrations (top): by Peter Sucheski