Most everyone reading this piece understands that life goes by too quickly.
Not that long ago my wife Michelle was bringing her 85-year-old father back from a doctor’s visit that revealed he had terminal cancer. He would live about six more weeks before he passed away.
He was a special man that lived a great life, but as he drove away from the doctor that day, he said to his daughter, “it goes by in the blink of an eye.” He said, “I can vividly remember playing in the yard as a young boy with my sisters around the fig trees that my parents brought over from Italy. It just wasn’t that long ago.”
His suggestions were to hug each day, enjoy your life, stand up for what you believe, and don’t take a single day for granted. His advice has stuck with me and I have replayed those words in my mind many times.
As it often happens, my heightened awareness to Dad’s wise words has brought several insights and probing questions about how I am leading and engaging myself. And I think they may help you, too.
1) Am I living a life true to me?
Or am I living the life that I think others expect me to live? Bonnie Ware, an Australian nurse, spent years in palliative care recording the thoughts of patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She collected her observations in a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
The most common regret expressed by these people was that they wished they would have had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life others expected of them. True self is a sense of being alive, with a clarity of who you are based on spontaneous, authentic expression of what you think and feel.
In interacting with many leaders, I find that the enemy of being authentic is to “acquiesce”. Time and time again, leaders admit that they have acquiesced and not said what they felt or taken a stand for what they believe in because they feared the reaction it might elicit from others.
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Ask yourself: Am I doing what I enjoy? Am I taking a stand for what I believe in? Am I living a great life based on my unique abilities and passions?
2) Am I acting on the life I want for myself?
Thinking and doing are two different things. My mentor used to say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It’s a common thought that’s applied to many situations.
That’s because when you think about it, a great life is one of intentional and conscious actions. We are what we do, and not what we say we will do.
The every morning ponderings are: What is it that I want to create today that doesn’t exist that is worth making personal sacrifices to bring it to life? What actions are the building blocks for building something that truly matters?
3) Am I embracing that big Ss come from small Fs?
Hug the day, including embracing the reality that big successes (the Ss) always stand on the top of a pile of failures (the Fs). Behind every great success is 1,000 failed attempts.
True experience does come from the number of chronological years you have been doing something, it comes from the number of experiments you conduct over time.
So what does my current list of experiments look like? Someone that has conducted 50 experiments over two years can have more meaningful experience (and failures) than someone who has been doing the same exact thing for 20 years.
In a blink of an eye it goes by, so be your true self, create with conscious actions, and fail your way to success!