I'm currently on the east coast for a family celebration … and a funeral.
Life and death.
Death is often a trigger that sends my thoughts spinning: celebrating life; mourning death; imagining what lies in store for the family; empathizing with the survivors … and even future-pacing to my own death and memorial service.
In daily life, I often remind myself that ‘everything happens for a reason’ – and just because I can't find the gift in a particular situation, doesn't mean it isn't there.
For example, when my Dad died, I came out with a new-found respect for how precious life is. I decided it was time for me to stop thinking about what I do – and spend more time cultivating who I want to be. It also caused me to consider how I would be remembered – versus how I'd choose to be remembered?
Death is often a reminder to make the most of the time given to us.
In 2014 – I gave a TEDx talk about that exact subject – The Time Value of A Life Worth Living.
It was a reflection on my personal struggle with juggling work-life balance. It was about a year that brought my Dad's death, the forced sale of my company by venture capitalists, and a divorce (in that order). Luckily, sometimes, life's darkest days bring the greatest gifts … if you are willing to look for them.
One of my biggest takeaways from that struggle was about the time value of life.
In finance, the "time value of money" refers to the principle that the purchasing power of money varies over time (meaning, money today has more purchasing power than money later). In part, this is because the value of money at a future point in time might be calculated by accounting for other variables (like interest earned, or inflation accrued, etc.).
It occurred to me that a similar calculation applied to life … or living.
The above video is 13 minutes. Hopefully you'll watch; but if not, I've added some of my favorite excerpts below.
Live Like You Only Have a Year Left.
"During the last part of my Dad's life, I think he would have done almost anything for a little more time.
Things that used to be unimportant, or even mildly irritating, took on increased importance. For example, a dinner together became almost a sacred event; a kiss goodnight was truly heartfelt; and saying goodbye meant something … because it could be the last time.
Nevertheless, as a result of that focus, he took more life out of that time.
Shouldn't we do the same thing? Think about it … We are never going to be younger than we are, right now. We are never going to have more time to fix a big mistake. Isn't it likely that the time value of your life, is worth maximizing?"
People Who Are Good Take Advantage of Opportunities. People Who Are Great Create Them.
"When I think back to that year, I spent so much time moving away from pain … that I forgot to move towards opportunity. I feel like I wasted so much time.
My Dad said the difference between good and great is infinitesimal. People who are good take advantage of opportunities … But people who are great create them.
I think what he meant was that when they see the opportunity, they move towards it. They shoot through it.
It is easy to say, "I see that opportunity; but it's not the right time." Or, "I see that opportunity, and I really want to remember it for when this is over." And as much as I want to believe that's true … deep down, I know that it's always a good time to take the right action.
Instead, "life" (the noun) often gets in the way of "living" (the verb).
To Change Your Life, Change Your Perspective.
"When you are 'stuck' … a shift in role, or a shift in perspective, is often all you need to see a new path forward or a new possibility.
Have you ever been stuck playing a role that you knew didn't serve you? Where you knew what the best next step was, from your perspective, but you had a sense that it wasn't the right action? Sometimes it makes sense to step back and ask, 'What role can I play that would get a better result?'"
That is often all it takes to change the game. Other times, what it takes is the decision to play a new game.
That is why I called the talk: The Time Value of a Life Worth Living.
Thanks for letting me share that with you.
I also wrote a three-part blog series on creating the TEDx talk.
- Part 1 focuses on my preparation leading up to the event.
- Part 2 elaborates on the differences between a normal speech and a TEDx thought. And,
- Part 3 delves into the thesis of my talk.
What would it take for you to get the most out of your life, today?