I remember when I was writing my book A Life That Counts I was confronted with what my life actually stood for. Basically I had a great family, great friends, lived in a beautiful democratic country, and had spent my life pursuing sporting goals and working hard in banking and finance to effectively contribute to a share price improving.
And in stark contrast I wrote about the issues of human trafficking and global poverty.
It all seemed so ridiculous.
Now I know you can’t always think like this, but it challenges me all the time. Whilst 1.4 billion people live on less than US$1.25 per day, I would throw around money for drycleaning and complain about the jetcat being late.
Then I came across this little story to warm my heart and encourage me to do little things along the way to doing greater things that make a difference.
“We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter :
‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’
They pay for their order, take the two and leave. I ask my friend:
‘What are those ‘suspended’ coffees ?’
‘Wait for it and you will see’
Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square infront of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in throught the door and kindly asks ’Do you have a suspended coffee ?’
It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm bevarage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.
Challenge / Thought
Don’t you love the idea? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support? If you own a business why don’t you offer something similar to your clients. As for me I’m determined to find ways to pay it forward more.
In the last two chapters of my book ‘A Life That Counts‘ I write about enjoying the journey and of living a life of significance and purpose that makes a difference and leaves a legacy. Personally, that’s what I want to do. I want to go after my dreams with everything I have and without regret. I want to have a life where I am living my dreams. And I plan to always do this. But I don’t want my dreams to just be selfish. Because if they are – to what end ? I mean, let’s say I have all these personal goals and dreams and I achieve them. Great ! But have I made a difference to others? Am I leaving a legacy ? Am I living a life of real purpose and significance or just living a life of selfish self-fulfillment.
To me Narayanan Krishnan is one of those inspirations to live a life bigger than my own. To think outside of myself. To take myself out of the glass box that I live in. To wake up and get my hands dirtier. To make decisions that will lead me into the life I know I am meant to lead – in charity and philanthropy. Making the world a better place, one person at a time – with a soft heart, but strong head.
“Start giving. See the joy of giving.”
I wanted to share with you a post by a woman named Bronnie Ware. She worked in palliative care for many years. Her patients were those who had gone home to die and she was with them for the last 3-12 weeks of their lives. She wrote in her blog about regrets of the dying and I want to share them with you. They’re a good reminder of what’s important and valuable in life and what we should try to remember amidst the busyness and speed of our lives these days.
“People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”
Perhaps we should live a little more like we were dying ! With the perspective that you tend to have on your deathbed.
So are there any regrets and life lessons of the dying that you can learn from ? Are there any things that you want to make a conscious choice and decision around (now) in order to change for the better.
Most people are afraid to take action.
Most people don’t care enough to make a difference.
Most people aren’t going to buy that new thing you’re selling.
Most people are too self-involved to do the generous work you’re hoping for.
Most people think they can’t afford it.
Most people won’t talk about it.
Most people aren’t going to read what you wrote.
Most people find it easier to criticise than to offer praise and encouragement.
… But you’re not most people !
And nor do you want to be most people right ?
And your best customers aren’t most people. Neither are your best supporters. Nor are those joining you on the journey.
One thing I’ve learnt over the last number of years is that when you dream big and are bold enough to dare to dream and to share that with others, it is surprising how many people are happy to tell you it can’t be done or to criticise or doubt you in some way. In fact, you’ll meet more people who’ll tell you that you can’t do something than you’ll meet people who’ll encourage you and tell you that you can. You’ll meet more people who’ll tell you that it’s a stupid idea than you’ll meet people who’ll tell you that that it’s a great idea.
There isn’t one autobiography I’ve read of people who’ve achieved amazing things who haven’t been told by people that they couldn’t do it. Think about people like Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Sir Edmund Hilary, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gai Waterhouse, Michael Milton, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Kurt Fearnley, Dr Suess, Salma Hayek, Walt Disney to name just a few. (For more examples click here).
And so I’ve learnt that it is a choice to have self-belief and not be limited by other people’s expectations or opinions. It’s a choice to ignore them and believe in something different that’s inside you, to believe you can do it rather than that you can’t. It’s a choice to choose to not be most people.
Don’t be like most people.
In any case you’re unique and there’s only one of you in the entire world.
Today I am launching my affiliate program for my book A Life That Counts. And I’m serious …
I want to give you $15 !!!
That is, I will give you 50% of my profits as a commission on every sale !!!
In other words, I’d love to give you the opportunity to make money by promoting my book or workbook.
Perhaps you’ve read the book and really got a lot out of it? Perhaps you’ve used my workbook and found it really helped clarify some things in your life, set some goals and equip you to move forward? Perhaps you’re a blogger with the same life outlook as me? Perhaps you’re a friend who would like to support me and make some money in doing so (they call that a win/win !)). Perhaps you’re an affiliate seller and appreciate that the calibre of famous Olympic and World Champions in this book make it a rare mix between inspiration and a practical handbook full of tools, techniques, strategies, learnings and examples that will be really useful for readers?
If so, perhaps you’d like to join my affiliate program.
(It’s really simple and easy - you just take 2 mins to register and create a user name and link that you then post on your blog / facebook / twitter / email. Then when anyone clicks on that link that you promote and buys my book … boom ! … you get 50% of my profits !!! It’s the easiest $15 you’ll ever make for posting a link and telling people about my book and workbook which they’ll love and will inspire and equip them to live the life they want).
(You will then use this Clickbank nickname in the link that you promote (replace xxxxx with your nickname).
http://xxxxx.rolloinc.hop.clickbank.net => eg http://johnsmith.rolloinc.hop.clickbank.net
There are also a whole lot of affiliate resources like this banner you can use. See my Affiliate Tools page for more).
I hope that’s all clear. I’ve outlined everything here or just contact me if you have any dramas.
And good luck spreading the message. Let’s help people follow their dreams without regret, create the life they think and dream about, and inspire and equip them to live an extraordinary, fulfilled and purposeful life that makes a difference – A Life That Counts !
I’m sitting here at my desk and it is 10am on a Monday morning. I’m at home because I am looking for a new job. And I’ve been wondering what I will look for in my new job. What’s important to me right now. Am I driven by the money and setting up my future? Am I driven by what I really want to do? Do I care to work again for a bank where really all my hard work serves only to make their share price go up and make some senior executives very rich? Or do I care to do something that I may well enjoy more but I’ll be doing it more for the love than the money and there will be an opportunity cost right at this point of my life when I have a pretty good earning potential.
And then this comes along ! Ahhh – perspective …
Making a difference. Doing my best to leave the world a better place because I was here.
Realising I’ve done everything I’ve wanted and have got everything I’ve wanted. Realising I have so much and am so blessed, so fortunate, so lucky. Realising there are so many living in extreme poverty, so many hurting, so many suffering, so many who need good people to rise up and help them because as much as they’d like to they just can’t.
So in tribute to World Humanitarian Day 2012 – 1 billion people taking action for each other – be inspired to leave your mark too … because I am.
I’ve been thinking about character a bit lately and just pondering how it is easy to put on a facade and a show and give the impression you want. We all do it. But yet I wonder what we are like behind closed doors, when there’s no one around to show off to, or to prove something to. When our pride and ego isn’t involved. When noone will know (except God who sees all). And I’ve been thinking about how it is so true that …
“character is who you are when noone is looking”
And then I read some interesting information the other day. Did you know that the English word “character” comes from the Greek word for an engraving tool? The engraver or artist makes a mark or groove on a metal plate by repeatedly etching in the same place with a sharp tool – the engraving tool.
Our characters are created in a similar way. Any behaviour or attitude repeated over and over forms part of our character. Behaviour and character are linked. They say that if you do something for 30 days in a row it will become a habit – that is, part of your character. And habits can be the best of friends or the worst of enemies.
If you’d like some tips on how to develop habits I talk about this in Chapter 6 of my book A Life That Counts. Of course I struggle like anybody else but I do know some ways to help develop them … so hopefully my book will be helpful here – to give you actual tools and strategies to develop good habits and hence good character. (After all, character is easier kept than recovered !)
Challenge: Character is who you are when noone’s looking and in this regard habits can help you or hinder your behaviour. What part of your character will you be working on going forward ?
You might a past post I wrote following Steve Jobs death and a recent post of mine where I was reflecting on where I was going and what I was doing as I create the life that I want. And you might remember me giving myself a bit of an uppercut given I’ve written a book about all this !
Well after that uppercut, came this … a hit over the head !!!!
How can you not be fired up by this ? Or is it just me? Enjoy and be inspired and challenged.
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it”
It’s true. When I was training for my first Olympics everything came second – relationships, work, my social life, my finances. Sure I would try to create balance in there and juggle all the balls in the air as best I could. BUT, if it came down to it, I knew which decision I’d make. It was clear. I would sacrifice and give up to reach my goal / dream. I exchanged a lot of life to achieve that goal. It extracted a high price … but it was worth it.
It’s funny though. I saw the other side recently. I went to the London Olympic Games athlete farewell dinner. It is always inspiring and motivating as you see videos and hear interviews with current and past athletes. (Bring on the London Olympics !)
In fact at one of these dinners 3 years ago I remember hosting a corporate table (each athlete is assigned to host a corporate sponsors table) and I remember thinking – “I don’t want to be one of these business guys sitting here on the table – there’s plenty of time for that. I want to be the athlete. And in any case, when you’re retired, you’re retired for a long time !” And in that moment I decided to come out of retirement and began training for Vancouver 2010 … And despite what happened in the race in Vancouver, I have no regrets. I’m glad I did it. The price I paid was fine. The life I exchanged for achieving my dream was worth it – despite the way it turned out.
So there I was at this London Olympic team athletes farewell dinner, having just recently retired a few months ago. I was inspired. I was motivated. But I knew that this time I wasn’t going to come out of retirement as the price was too high. I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice my career any longer; or commit all those hours to that hard training; or put relationships second; or to put all that money into training / travelling / equipment; or to always make apologies for social events or leave early if I did go. Simply put, the price was now too high. The opportunity cost was too high. I was and am no longer prepared to exchange that same amount of life in order to get to my 3rd Olympics in Sochi.
And don’t we see this in all areas of our lives … we see marriages breaking down as people work longer hours and are never home. They exchange a lot of life to be successful in business – but is the exchange and the price you paid worth it ? We see people become stupidly body conscious. We see people pursuing money at any cost – even of their own integrity. It’s always an exchange isn’t it.
“It’s true … the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it … food for thought !”
I’ve had a day at home today and done a few interesting things. One was to do an Instinctive Drivers questionnaire which looks at what my natural drivers, ways of thinking and methods are. Many call this someone’s ‘flow’. When it feels easy. When it feels instinctual. The other things I did is sat and listen to a commencement address by Neil Gaiman to the University of the Arts. And once again it made me think about my life and what I’m doing and where I’m heading. So here for your enjoyment is Neil’s commencement address.
I’ll let Neil speak for himself but here’s some of the things I found challenging or instructive or inspiring (my words) …
- If you are naive or don’t know things and hence don’t know things are impossible then that’s a good thing as then it’s easier to do as you’re not bound by other people’s expectations or rules or paradigms
- Am I settling ? Doing what I have to do before doing what I want to do ? (People like Neil and Steve Jobs sound very similar. they love what they do. It doesn’t feel like work. What is that for me ?)
- Imagine where you want to be – like a distant mountain. As long as you are walking towards the mountain then you’re on the track and that’s OK.
- Everyone will face the problems of disappointment, failure and disillusionment – they are part of the journey. So learning how to deal with these and get over them is part of the journey too
- Be wise and if you can’t be wise, then pretend you are wise and do what they would do !
- Enjoy the journey. seriously – don’t worry. Enjoy the journey.
Challenge: How does this encourage, inspire or challenge you ?