The theme of this post is don’t wait for a life changing event to kick start you into action. Apart from self confidence, living each day more deliberately can can infuse your life with more meaning and focus.
Steve Jobs Stanford University in 2005
This “commencement address” is now well known. I want to focus near the end; At 9:10 Steve says:-
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Steve, of course, has now had his last day at the age of 56. When I started to write this post the papers and internet are full of stories about the death, at 48 , of Whitney Houston. This final part of Steve’s speech hammers home the fact that we are all mortal; You need to have the confidence to live the life you want – not what someone else wants:-
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice… Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”
Peak Moments Revisited
Reading, and responding to, comments is one of the joys of blogging. And I do now try to say thanks to genuine comments!
Quite often I have received comments that give a totally new angle on what I had originally written. Occasionally people share personal experiences related to the topic I have started.
“I agree people are amazing and peak moments are something to contemplate. I was in a position once where a man pointed a pistol at me and pulled the trigger – click! A second click! He ran. I have had trouble getting excited about much ever since. I still had to function and found out I could with a clear head. Been in ER medicine ever since. My peak moment.”
Its not unusual when people have peak moments that are also death defying, such as Bruce’s, for them to be life changing events. You hear that when people survive car crashes or other accidents or incidents that could have turned out very differently.
“Instead of responding to trauma, therefore, it’s better if you can avoid a wake-up call like that to create change in your life. You don’t have to wait for a 9/11, a car crash, another near brush with death to think about what really matters. You can do so right now, today, no matter what else is happening in your life.”
Chris was reflecting on two books he had read which dealt with how people lived their lives when told of terminal illness and in effect given a date around which they would die. That can be even more of a wake-up call than surviving a near death experience.
In such circumstances many took the route of living each day more deliberately, making definite plans and choosing projects to do that were most important to them. The sad thing is waiting till we have such a jolt before switching from living each day passively, as if we had an infinite number.
Live Each Day as if Your Last
I wrote a recent post around the regrets of the dying. I’m not generally morbid and this will be the last on this theme (for now!). But it does appear that death – either when we are reminded that we could go at any-time, or when its imminent – focusses the mind. Although Steve Jobs says he read and was affected by the quote above at the age of 17, I’m sure it was his first brush with cancer that inspired that speech.
So why does it have to happen this way? Do we need a life changing event to kick start us into action? And like Bruce, has something dramatic sparked your life? Do share your experiences and thoughts.