Tony Note: This past week my good friend and business associate Paul Guyon lost his mother. Based on a phone call we had a couple of days ago, he suggested I revisit words written about dealing with loss that I had penned many years ago. I listened to Paul and agree with his recommendation.
This is a partial excerpt from chapter 10 from my third book, Mind Capture: How to Awaken Your Entrepreneurial Genius in a Time of Great Economic Change © 2011. I’ve had many readers tell me that it was one of the more deeply challenging, yet highly important lists they’ve ever created.
Father time is strange indeed. When we’re children, life moves at a crawl, and when we’re adults it begins to pick up speed like a snowball rolling downhill. We cannot go back in time and rewrite or live in the past. Nor should we allow the two thieves known as regret and guilt to haunt and steal our valuable time known as the present. An untrained, negative, and beaten down mind filled with regret and fear is much more dangerous to success than most people realize or can even imagine.
The Honor List
The names and dates are unfamiliar to most people, but to me they are pivotal markers and turning points in my destiny and journey.
Four names, four years in time, four major people who left an impression on my soul and present state of how I look at motivation and action. Like a bright, burning, orange flare in a pitch black forest, each one of them grabbed my soul and uniquely changed my destiny in ways that no one could imagine or possibly link together.
Frozen in Time, But Never Forgotten
The years and ages of Stan, Robert, Dan and Craig represent the year they exited the game of physical life. Their life clocks here on Earth ran out of time quickly and far too soon. Two of them passed from cancer and two of them were involved in freak accidents.
While many people these days obsessively worry about retirement and multiple “what-if” scenarios as to what they’ll be doing when they turn 50, 60 or 70 years of age, this was not an option for the four people I’ve listed. Unfortunately, they never had the chance to fill their minds with such trivia, for their life force was snuffed out at relatively young ages. It’s ok and healthy to dream and think of the future, but sadly, most people obsess and worry relentlessly about a future date or marker in time that may burn out before they even get there. Each day thousands of people are notified that their life will end soon, while others get no warning at all.
The List of Four Exercise
I’m a big believer in creating and using lists to get things done quicker and with less stress. Yes, for men it’s wired into our DNA. This next exercise is designed to make you appreciate the life and talents you might be taking for granted at this moment in time. I’m going to have you create a very different type of list that you may have never thought about making and move it from your head into the physical realm via pen and paper. Be prepared, this will also conjure up many strong emotions from your past.
If we sat down over a cup of coffee and I said to you, “Write your own list of four people who’ve passed on and how they positively impacted your life.” Which names and reasons would you put on the list and why? I want you to do this right now. Take a few minutes and write their names on a piece of paper.
Did You Write the Four Names?
If not, take a minute or two and do it now!
The ages and dates of the names on my own list of four serve as a stiff reminder to me that death is a part of our existence and can come in the prime of life with some advance warning and often when we least expect it. The goal here of creating your own list of names is to remind you to deeply think about your own life, appreciate it, and look at each day as a gift to be celebrated and lived fully even during the hourly ups and downs. If you made up The List of Four for yourself, welcome to the club. I now urge you to honor these people in your life by going after your dreams and passions with a renewed sense of urgency.
A second question: Is your current life honoring them or would they wonder why you’re squandering it? This isn’t an easy question to ask, let alone think about. However, it’s essential for you to dig deep within your own life story and answer this question. Again, the goal is to allow these people who were in your life to inspire you to rise up and cultivate your inner genius.
Look, every human who’s ever lived, past or present, has made trade-offs. I believe true life balance is one of the biggest myths still being packaged and sold across the radio and TV talk show circuit to society. It’s sexy to talk about “work and life balance,” but achieving it is not easy. Many times when we’re in flow or actively pursuing a big goal, creative chaos will take over and mess with balance. It will happen, trust me. It’s important to continually gain perspective and work towards recognizing that a short-term imbalance is often required to help us in the long term to see our dreams take shape.
Finally, let me ask you a third question that few people, especially those in business, rarely if ever stop and slow down to ask themselves: What really drives and inspires you to play the game? Each of us gives up most of our waking hours and valuable life force to work for someone else or to build and pursue our own enterprise. There are no timeouts in life, so let me ask you once again, what really drives you to play the game? In the sped up, digital, interruption based, media overload society, many people are getting bogged down in distraction and worry about what others are doing, thinking, saying, writing or watching instead of focusing on themselves.
If you aren’t motivated, focused and truly sold on your dreams for the life you’re living and designing for significance, then how in the world will you pull it off and attract the people and resources needed to carry it out? When these ingredients are missing, a mental tug-of-war takes place and sabotages many good-intentioned people.