I love Brendon Burchard’s story, he was in a serious car accident at 19, and in facing death had an epiphany that changed the direction of his life. What he realized is that at the end of our lives we are faced with three basic questions:
- Did I Live?
- Did I live my life? Was I alive, passionate and vibrant?
- Did I Love?
- Did I love, openly, honestly and completely?
- Did I Matter?
- Did I make some kind of difference?
He realized in facing these questions that his life wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be, shortly after he dedicated his life to supporting people in finding fulfillment and inspiration in their lives, his main goal is to love and support people. He’s pretty inspiring.
I resonate with this, not that I have personally faced my own death, but I’ve walked along side it closely throughout every stage of my life. As a child I had been to more funerals than any of my other classmates. Part of this is that we had a rich life full of many people in various stages of life and health. I grew up understanding what it is to care for someone who is dying. That is a gift I didn’t fully appreciate until I found myself caring for my wife through her battle with cancer. I remember hearing, over and over from people who were leaving us, that it wasn’t the things they had done they regretted most (though the best of them apologized for injury to loved ones when they could) it was the things they hadn’t done or been able to accomplish that haunted them. I got a bone deep lesson, early on that you don’t sit on your death bed going, “I’m so glad I showed up 10 minutes early to work every day for 40 years.” What you remember and relive are the adventures, the risks and the rewards, the love shared, the people who mattered most, and time spent with them, sharing the same air.
This has defined a lot of my outlook on life. My philosophy has been “Always Jump”, when life offers you an opportunity, take it. This has made my life rambling and messy and passionate and many storied. It’s something I struggle with every day as I carve my own path, building my businesses and a way to do more than subsist and still jump. I’m not ever going to throw out the “Leap and the net will Appear” statement, because, honestly, sometimes the lesson you’re being offered is discernment and damn is the ground hard. I’ve got some serious lessons I thought I had learned already that I’m still smarting from, just this month. I make a mess of things regularly. But more than anything, I think, what I am learning in my 40s is that the three questions are a good measure of when to jump. I am also learning that nothing is simple, and that you just have to do your best to be better every day.
We all struggle daily with finding purpose and dreams and risks and who we know we really are. As our lives unfold, hopefully, we make the best choices we see in each situation and ideally, learn to be our best selves over time. Each of us weighs what is most important in our personal worlds and when we are brave, do the things that help those important things flourish. In the end, only we will be able to answer the questions.
I’ve been chewing on them again while I sip my coffee in the morning. I’m not sure yet what the answers are, it’s not really time for me to know and I don’t take for granted that every day is a new chance to live more deeply, love more fully and make a difference in someones life. Hopefully, I will have a long time before I have to face the final contemplation. In the meantime I’m calling old and new friends and making the effort to spend time with them. I’m trying to balance my career goals with real connection. I find I am most at peace when I can answer yes to all three of them. I want that for you too, I am here to support you to the best of my ability. Welcome to our tribe.
Did I live?
Did I love?
Did I make a difference?