6,000 Days

On page 74 on Kevin Cashman’s excellent book, Leadership From The Inside Out, he tells the story of being asked by a Tibetan monk how many days he has to live. After gathering himself, he thought for minute and answered “Six thousand.” The monk replied: “So, if you have 6,000 days, do you want to waste any of them? Do you want to waste any of those days in frustration, anger, or not living your purpose?”

The question, and its profound implications, had a strong impact on Kevin, and in reading the passage, myself. It made me want to answer the question. I’d like to work the details out in this post and encourage you to examine the idea.

According to the US Census, my life expectancy is 74.25 years. I am currently about 41.25, so that comes out to 33 years. I plan on living longer, and healthier, than average, so let’s say I’m going to live to 80. The Census gives me approximately 12,045 days; with my number, I’m guessing somewhere in the 14,000 range.

Two things jump to mind: 1) “Wow! That gives me tons of time,” and 2) “Imagine how many people I can help and how much I can optimize and enjoy my life along the way.” My gut tells me that #2 is the more rewarding, fulfilling (but challenging) path. Some not-so-resourceful habits like the sound of the procrastination in #1. (If I’m honest with myself, I know that effort in service of a worthy ideal is always the best choice.)

I wasn’t sure where this post was going to go and all of of a sudden I feel like it’s done. Like all I needed to do was describe the question, do the math and present myself — and you — with the question.

I don’t think it’s morbid, but a great wake-up call.  If I have somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 days to live, it’s a good idea to consider what I might do with that time. (Especially considering how I used some of the 15,000 or so days that I’ve had so far.)

I’m off to ponder . . . have a great (and hopefully insightful) week.


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