When I was 40 years old and fully aware of the situation, I sat with my dad in his hospital bed. My Dad Tom, who was terminally ill was dying. I had come to the hospital and just speed some time with him. About 5 minutes of me talking with him , I did 90% of the talking as his life was being taken away from him with every breath he took. I began questioning what I was telling him. Really, what was I saying to the man who was the reason I was on this planet in the first place. My Dad illness and his life situation was like looking into a mirror of my life 44 years in the future.
“So,” I tried to delicately ask, “How are you doing Dad?”
“Well,” he replied, through the hissssss of his oxygen tank “How are you doing David?”
I was silent…..I was on the verge of breaking down. We didn’t say a word for over 10 minutes, I was lost in my thoughts and quite frankly I didn’t want to say how I felt. I wanted so show my dad that I was strong and I was going to be ok but in truth I just wanted be 10 all over again.
Just when I couldn’t take the silence anymore my dad said something that I will NEVER forget! His last words to me where “David, we are born and we die these are just 2 dates. The dash between them however is what matters. Make yours matter!! and with that he went silent and closed his eyes (He died the next day when we took him off life support).
Whoa! In an instant,my Dad’s response opened my middle aged eyes to one of life’s greatest truths and changed my life: Today is the oldest each of us has ever been and the youngest we will ever be again and all we have is today, right now, this exact moment. We will never get that minute back as long a we live.
In other words, life is short and the clock is ticking. It’s kind of scary, but it’s true. If there was ever a perfect day to stand strong beside your values, your ambitions, and what’s best for you, that day is today so make your dash matter and life YOUR life not someone else’s!
So today I challenge you to…
- Always stretch and improve yourself – Always dream and shoot higher than you think is possible. Do not bother trying to be better than your peers or predecessors. Try to be better than you ever knew YOU could be.
- Always listen to your own inner voice. – The unhappiest folks are those who care the most about what everyone else thinks – those who let everyone else drown out their own inner voice. So stand strong beside yourself. There’s great freedom in leaving others to their opinions.
- Always walk comfortably in your own shoes – If you don’t follow the path others want you to follow they might become irritated. Don’t worry about it. Let them be. It’s their problem, not yours. So many people seem to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but have no clue how to lead their own. So focus on your inner callings and keep paving your own path. Remember that it is more useful to be aware of a single strength or weakness in yourself than to be aware of a thousand strengths and weaknesses in others.
- Always work through your fears. – Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. So don’t let fear decide your future. In the end, you can be comfortable or courageous, but not both at once.
- Always be a little unrealistic – To be successful, you have to be a little unrealistic. You have to believe that something totally different than what has happened for an eternity CAN happen starting now. Think about it. Being realistic doesn’t change anything – being unrealistic does. Doesn’t it seem a bit unrealistic to be able to use a mobile phone to instantly research any topic imaginable, watch movies, get perfect driving directions to anywhere you want to go, and see your friends face-to-face no matter where in the world you are? Fortunately a small group of computer scientists didn’t think so.
- Always do what needs to be done – You were born to be a success. Although to be successful, you must plan to be, prepare to be, expect to be, and work to be, every day. (Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
- Always embrace your struggles – After each struggle you once faced in the past was overcome, you grew stronger and more able to meet the ones you face today. Likewise, the struggles you face today are preparing you for the challenges of tomorrow. As this process of growth takes place, remember that there are no mistakes. The events that arise as you journey forward, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary steps in order to learn what you need to know to reach the places you’ve chosen to go.
- Always be willing to make mistakes – Making mistakes is far more productive than never moving. You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren’t busy avoiding or denying them. And no matter how bad of a mistake you make, there comes a time when you have to stop thinking about it and move on. No regrets in life – just lessons that show you the way forward.
- Always get back up – The strongest and most accomplished people are not those who always win, but those who refuse to give up even after they lose. You might think you’re not good enough, but you’ll surprise yourself if you keep trying. What defines us is how well we rise after falling. At the end of the day, to win, all you have to do is get up one more time than you fall down.
- Always make the best of it – When you lose something, don’t think of it as a loss, but as a gift that lightens your load so you can better travel the path that was meant for you.
- Always Listen the naysayers. – When someone undermines your dreams, predicts your doom, or criticizes you in any way, remember, they’re telling you their story, not yours.
- Always take small steps forward – The moment you give up is the moment you let someone else win. So keep going. You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.
- Never stop giving yourself a chance to soar to new heights – You’ll never be able to fly if you hold on to what holds you back. So respect yourself enough to walk away from what no longer grows you.
- Always smile – When you lose your smile, you lose your footing. So be determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation you may find yourself. For you will eventually learn that the greater part of your happiness or unhappiness is determined not by your specific circumstances, but by your attitude and outlook.
- Always think positive – Thoughts are power. They create and destroy. What is possible is everything. What you do is up to you. Look around and you will see that almost your entire life has been born out of your thoughts. Know this, and plant your seeds accordingly. You can change your mind at any moment. So go ahead. Change it right now.
- Always laugh at yourself and your life situations – All self-misery has its roots in self-pity, and all self-pity is rooted in taking life too seriously. If you take everything too seriously, especially yourself, you’ll wind up fearing every new step you take. Loosen up and laugh it off if you can – especially when things don’t go as planned. People with a good sense of humor have a better sense of life. You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself and your circumstances.
- Always appreciate the life you’re living right now – Stop rushing. Breathe. Be where you are. You’re where you’re supposed to be at this very moment. Every experience and step is necessary. (Read The Power of Now.)
- Always indulge in life’s little daily joys – Notice what you love, not what you hate. Smile more. Happiness is enjoying the small things in life, all while chasing after the big ones.
- Always spread your kindness – How you make others feel about themselves, says a whole lot about you. So treat people right. Kindness IS a gift you can afford to give.
- Always give what you can – Exercise your talents to give back. Do so whenever you can, because you can. And when you get tired, remember all those people who can’t do what you can do. Think about what they would be willing to give to have the abilities you have right now – a simple gift you take for granted. Then strive harder just for them. And know that there are others out there with different gifts who are doing the same for you.
- Always give your important relationships a fair chance – It’s impossible to find someone who will never hurt you, so go for ones worth the pain. And remember, without a little pain, joy wouldn’t feel so good.
- Always do little things for your own happiness – Remember, happiness comes from your own choices and actions. Waiting for someone else to make you happy is the best way to be sad.
- Always open your mind to new perspectives – Don’t hate what you don’t understand. Give things a fair chance. Your mind is like a parachute; it doesn’t work unless it’s open.
- Always evolve – Just because you liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean you’re required to always like it. You can change your mind. You don’t have to pretend to like something as an act of loyalty to who you are as a person, based on who you once were. To be sincerely loyal to yourself is to allow yourself the freedom to change. The only thing you ever are for sure is unsure, and this means you’re growing, and not stagnant or imprisoned by old ways of thinking.
- Always write your own story, your own way – When writing the story of your life, never, ever let someone else hold the pen. Make conscious choices every day that align your actions with your values and ambitions. Because the way you live each day is a sentence in the story of your life. Each day you make a choice as to whether the sentence ends with a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point.
This is your moment, this is your DASH…
What would you add to the list? What’s one thing you will never stop doing for yourself? Please leave a comment below and let me know.