Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my mortality.
There’s an uplifting thought from a positive- minded business coach, right?
Seriously, it’s a cliché that “life is short” and we hear it all the time. Most people probably don’t think about it much, but I’ve had experiences during the past year that were subtle reminders of the value of time.
I was involved last winter in the musical “Urinetown.” Little Sally, one of the characters, sings a song titled “Tell Her I Love Her” about the death of the lead, Bobby Strong. She ends the song with “Then he expired.” Those words sound so final.
A few weeks ago, Uncle John, a man who was my godfather, a wonderful husband, father and mentor unexpectedly graduated to heaven at the age of 84. This was a complete shock to his loved ones. He lived life to the fullest, and we’ll all miss him.
At this writing, hurricane Irene has claimed over three dozen lives. One curious man went outside to check on the weather and was killed by a falling tree. Another person met their fate in a fire that was apparently caused by wires knocked down by the storm.
Lastly, there’s my friend Mo. She shared with me the biggest fight of her life, courageously battling breast cancer and winning. “None of us are sure of our expiration date,” Mo told me. Can you feel the gravity of that last statement?
On the other hand, food and credit cards and warranties all have a time stamp. We know exactly by what date we need to consume the milk before it goes bad. When we purchase with plastic the salesperson asks for the expiration date. However many of us don’t think of our lives as having an expiration date. Our time is limited yet we’re in the dark as to when our time will be up. I would venture to guess if you’re like me, we tend to think we’ll have more than enough time to accomplish all the things we’d like to experience before we expire.
I recently had the chance to participate in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation; a volunteer driven organization that has raised almost $77M since 2005 for kids cancer research. I shaved my head and raised $1,500 in honor of Kennedy Bucklin, a one year old who was diagnosed with cancer and battled her infirmity until she became an angel at 21 months. The brevity of her life is difficult to comprehend. There are hundreds of stories of kids at the St. Baldrick’s site whose lives were taken away much too soon and whose time here was shortened beyond belief.
A few years ago, while visiting Uncle John and Aunt Dorothy’s charming home in Connecticut, I asked him, “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in building your successful advertising business?” He collects his thoughts and after a long pause, turns to me with a smile and shouts
“Don’t think about it, just do it!”
I smiled from ear to ear.
Here’s a suggestion.
Make a list of things you’ve put off and propel them into action:
- A hobby
- Change careers
- Become a better leader
- Forgive someone
- Get serious about your business
Like Bobby, John, Mo, and Kennedy, you and I have an unknown expiration date. It’s one of the mysteries of life.
Until that time, my request for you is to live with intention.
It’s not about what you have or what you did, it’s what you’ll do with the time you have right now.