I have little patience for talk, talk, talk, and no action. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I am often reminding myself of my own mortality, and the awareness that I still take many things for granted… Or perhaps I just like to get stuff done and I don’t suffer procrastinators gladly. Who knows?
Some years ago now, a friend of mine got irritated when in conversation I brought up the Stoic practice of contemplating death – I’m sure other schools and communities used similar rituals – to remind oneself of both the fragility and gift of life. He got frustrated and interrupted the conversation. I guess for him I had just become another one of these annoying nutcases talking about death and playing with these grandiose ideas to look cool.
Whatever my friend’s problem was, the fact remains that looking at my own mortality, as scary as it may be sometimes, has numerous benefits. I have written about death before and you can read some of the ideas and insights I shared here, here and here – I recommend you take a look 🙂 . I do find the topic profound and useful, although I’ve got a lot more to learn and it doesn’t make the reality of death less challenging to deal with.
But here I want to relate death to another area which, as a coach, I very much cherish: ACTION.
This same friend was often postponing and procrastinating on his dreams. He did not even articulate his desires as dreams. He was simply getting by, living life as it came, by default. Not much ambition, not much drive. A What-s-the-point type of attitude. Every day looking the same. Flat line. Whenever I’d ask how he was doing, he would reply “fine”. The exact same “fine” that Simon Sinek describes in this interview on millenials. Slowly dying out of boredom. Resolved. Cynical. Living, but not really alive.
Not that I think it’s “bad” to live this way. Everyone can do as they please. But it’s clearly not the life I choose to lead, and given the line of work I have been called to do, I generally don’t want this for other people either. I want to achieve my goals. I want to create my dreams. Not just talk about them. I want to DO, and what better fuel for DOING than the wisdom that my time is finite?
Unfortunately, we often continue to pretend and act as if we’ll live forever and we’ll do that thing, “someday…”.
I speak to too many people who are continuously putting off what they say they want. And the tricky part is: they always have good reasons for it. We all do! Whenever I am not owning up and stepping up to a desire I have that I’m not creating, you can be certain that I’ve got a bunch of reasonable arguments to defend my pitiful lack of initiative in the direction I want. I am blind to the truth, and blind to my own blindness.
We ALWAYS find ways to rationalise our lack of self-leadership, our hiding, our playing small.
Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind that you don’t pursue a desire you have – actually that’s not quite true because I know I love seeing my clients create what they set their mind to… But what I really do care about is when we bury our head in the sands of incongruity between what we say we want and what we actually do about it.
I don’t want people to feel “fine” in their life. I want them to feel extraordinary! Not always joyful perhaps, as life has its ups and downs, but at least inspired, meaning-rich, walking their journey! This is my mission, this is what makes me feel alive. I don’t know why, it just is.
Don’t wait ’till you die to get started on your dream. If you’ve got a chance to take a big step forward towards it, grab it. If a small one, step forth. Be bold and trust that things will work out. Because they do.
Don’t wait ’till you die to invest in yourself. There will be nothing left to invest in by then. YOU are your greatest asset, no doubt about it. The best time to act and stretch yourself is now. It’s the only time you ever get.
Don’t wait ’till you die to say what’s on your mind. To do what your heart calls you to do. To look people in the eyes and say “I love you”.
Please, don’t wait ’till you die.