Category: Blog

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.


We Are Dissonance Resolvers

“Huh? What the heck is he talking about?” Excellent question. Allow me to explain:

Human beings do some interesting things, some great, some good, some not-so-much. One of the things that we do that falls in the not-so-much category is dissonance resolution.

First (an attempt at), a definition; Dissonance Resolution: in relation to people, ideas and sometimes mood or energy, humans seek to resolve the tension, or difference, between ourselves and those around us or those we are in relation to.

In relationships, and this is perhaps the most pernicious manifestation, we seek — often unconsciously — to resolve the dissonance between ourselves and the people we know, or see regularly (i.e. in the media, at work, . . . ). We do this by agreeing with their statements or beliefs, modelling their behavior and sometimes even dressing like them or adopting their purchasing habits.

Another way this shows up (very powerfully) is belief or expectation. When someone has high (but not unrealistic) expectations for us (and provides encouragement and support) we rise to the challenge. We grow and develop; we do more than we thought we could, and often better.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true, when people ask or expect little it is the rare person who doesn’t play-down to the lowered standard.

You may have heard that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I really believe there’s something to that. The challenge is that humans need to belong. We need to be part of a family, and a tribe. We will often trade safety and security for our dreams if (we think) our dreams mean we might leave people behind.

Dissonance in a system must be resolved. Otherwise, the being or mechanism breaks apart. We either level-up to those playing big or well or level-down to those playing poorly or smaller than us (I see this when I play golf all the time and it applies in life just as much in sports). This happens all the time, quietly, subtly and often unconsciously.

Where are you leveling-down? Where can you play at a higher level? Who (or where) can you spend more time with that will provide the example and inspiration you need to play bigger?

Have Something Better To Do

I receive Hugh MacLeod’s blog updates and highly recommend you subscribe as well. One recently got my attention and reminded me of a favorite quote from one of my mentors (Thomas Leonard): “People do what they do because they don’t have anything better to do.”

Check out Hugh’s blog post here before reading on.

I can attest to the idea of being sucked into either 1) not having anything better to do, or 2) needing something to do (I believe we all can, if we’re honest with ourselves). I have found I have new levels of energy and initiative since I decided to ride to the four corners of America — I found something better to do.

What is the thing, or things, that would be better for you to do? What does your heart call you to do in this life? Lack of clarity (i.e. not knowing/admitting what you want and having a clear, flexible and achievable plan for its achievement) is the stumbling block for most (not a shortage of inspiring and meaningful desires).

Give yourself permission to want what you want. And start towards its fulfillment. Today. Now even.

The Necessity Of Flexible Goals

[Going through some folders on my computer today I found some blog posts that I had written (for a blog that didn’t exist . . . ) in 2006, and they’re actually not too bad; this one is from June:]

Goals are a bit of a paradox, albeit an easily managed one. Clearly knowing what you want, with measures of achievement and deadlines for accomplishment is key to success and happiness. There is something very empowering, and directing, about knowing what it is you want. It allows you to focus and be effective in each given moment.

People sometimes avoid goals though. Goals are sometimes seen as limiting, or intimidating and merely a source of future disappointment. I suppose that is possible if one takes a rigid approach to goals and/or has a negative self-concept.

Goals are a source of power and fulfillment when we approach them with flexibility. When it is okay to change the deadline, or re-state the goal — or even delete the goal in favor of another — goals serve us. The fact of the matter is that setting and working toward goals changes us, often evolves us. It stands to reason that we might want, or need, to adjust our goals as we change.

The key is knowing when to stick with a goal or a deadline, and when to make changes. Self-knowledge and self-esteem are valuable in making these sorts of decisions. When you know who you are, and feel good about yourself, you can (accurately) assess the feedback you are receiving from your environment and listen to your intuition (your gut, your body, how you feel) and thereby make choices about your goals that serve you. And don’t hesitate to get some help in making, modifying and achieving your goals — a coach is a great partner in designing and living an excellent (and happy!) life.

[Don’t ya love that last sentence!? I added it to the end of all the posts I wrote back then.]

The Miracle of Personal Development

I believe this speaks for itself and have nothing to add; enjoy:

The Miracle of Personal Development by Jim Rohn

One day my mentor Mr. Shoaff said, “Jim, if you want to be wealthy and happy, learn this lesson well: Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

Since that time I’ve been working on my own personal development. And I must admit that this has been the most challenging assignment of all. This business of personal development lasts a lifetime.

You see, what you become is far more important than what you get. The important question to ask on the job is not, “What am I getting?” Instead, you should ask, “What am I becoming?” Getting and becoming are like Siamese twins: What you become directly influences what you get. Think of it this way: Most of what you have today you have attracted by becoming the person you are today.

I’ve also found that income rarely exceeds personal development. Sometimes income takes a lucky jump, but unless you learn to handle the responsibilities that come with it, it will usually shrink back to the amount you can handle.

If someone hands you a million dollars, you’d better hurry up and become a millionaire. A very rich man once said, “If you took all the money in the world and divided it equally among everybody, it would soon be back in the same pockets it was before.”

It is hard to keep that which has not been obtained through personal development.

So here’s the great axiom of life:

To have more than you’ve got, become more than you are.

This is where you should focus most of your attention. Otherwise, you just might have to contend with the axiom of not changing, which is:

Unless you change how you are, you’ll always have what you’ve got.

(From Jim Rohn’s web-site)