“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” James Dean
Before I die, I want to . . .
How did you, at this moment, finish that sentence? Did you actually finish the sentence?
For me, several thoughts come to mind: I want to publish my second book. And I want to publish a third one, too. Through writing and speaking, I want to continue helping others find and live their purpose in life. I want to grow old with my wife. I want to continue sharing my faith with my daughters and grandkids. I want to make a difference to those surrounding me. I want to fish often. I want to . . . Well, the list is pretty long – perhaps too long. What about you? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? Are you currently engaged in those activities?
In his book, Die Empty, Todd Henry identifies a few core beliefs that are essential in our pursuit of making a difference with our lives. He writes:
- Your days are numbered – finite – someday they will run out
- You have a unique contribution to make to the world
- No one else can make your contribution for you
- Your contribution is not about you
- Avoid comfort – it is dangerous
- Take a stand
- Your understanding of your ‘sweet spot’ develops over time like film in a darkroom
- You must plant seeds today for a harvest later
I believe that any of these statements, as a stand-alone belief, could easily lead to several hours in discussion with our closest advisor – or just in solitary contemplation. I love the thought – and do believe it – that we have a unique contribution to make to the world. We have gifts. And, those gifts are packaged in a unique manner that is different from anyone else in the world. Despite the fact that there are billions of people on earth, our personal package is still different from that of everyone else.
Advancing in age, I find myself thinking decidedly more about my contribution to mankind. What can I give? What do I have to give that will help another? Am I really doing that today?
Which of these beliefs resound with you? Do any of them cause you to ponder even for a moment? Does any area of Todd Henry’s list make you less comfortable? The one about ‘my contribution not being about me,’ (#4) stops me in my tracks. I like to be liked. I like to be recognized. I love the applause at the end of a presentation. It is just being human. But, in the end, the applause should be about the audience. It should be about others. How did I make a difference in an individual life?
Before the end of his book, Mr. Henry takes the reader from the idea of Die Empty to Live Empty. It’s not really about exhausting our days through busy activity. It is, rather, about finding the right focus and growing into the person I was always created to be. I still have some work to do. I need to plant seeds today. I also need to avoid any comfort zone that may hinder the contribution I want to, and can, make.
Mark Twain wrote, “The two most important days in our life are the day we are born and the day we figure out why.”
What is your ‘why’? Are you living it?