Here's an excerpt from an email he recently sent out to friends and well wishers.
" I have decided to not do anymore chemotherapy treatments. The mix between a few weeks of chemo then blood infections, the hole in the duodenum which helps to feed the infections and can't be fixed, and the hospital, has taken a heavy toll".
"One Doctor has given me 3-4 months to live. No one knows when my passage will occur. I have decided to live the best I can without chemo and to enjoy my family and friends as best I can over whatever time is left".
I'm sure you've all heard a lot about "making the most of your time", managing your schedules so you can be more efficient, work-life balance. Some of you may have watched the Steve Jobs famous commencement speech at Stanford, during which he implored students to "stay hungry, stay foolish". You may also have heard motivational speakers talk about the importance of "living each day as it it's your last". It wasn't until I read my friends last email that those words really hit home for me. He talked about his love for his wife and child, the good times they've shared and how much he loves them.
He reminsced about his career goals - all of which were about helping others "enhance their chances of success". I'm one of thousands of people, whose lives he touched. As I read through the email, I started to reassess my priorities and rethink my career goals. I often tell people that life is short and I do try to make the most of my time - however I often find myself living day to day, week to week - facing the same core priorities, mostly work related stuff!
At the weekends, I catch my breadth and try to put work aside - knowing that Monday will bring fresh challenges and new short term priorities. Sometimes we take so many things for granted - our health, our family members, even our material posessions.
It took something like this to happen to someone I've come to know and admire - to make me stop and reassess my plans.
I want to believe that all of us want to live "a life that shows". We want to look back and feel like we accomplished something meaningful with our lives, that we looked after our loved ones, touched a few people. Deep down, I believe we all want to make a difference.
If any of you feel that way - allow me suggest 2 things you could do today, to help ensure that no matter what - you will live "a live that shows".
1.Set Selfless Career Goals: Yes, I said career goals and not life goals. The truth is, most of us will spend the majority of our lives working - so it's important that we set selfless career goals. By this I simply mean that we need to set out to do things that help make other people successful. I mean we need to look beyond our desire for personal fullfillment and set some selfless goals which help others. I'm not knocking personal goals - or saying you shouldn't have any. I am saying that we should all have at least one career goal which is simply about helping, enhancing, guiding or supporting others - something that we do without any expectation that well get something in return.
Here's are my friends career goals. "My goals were to: 1) advise and counsel students to enhance their chances of success for a college degree (BA, Master's, PhD); 2) to help change the structure of the university so it would be more responsive to the needs of students".
2.Maintain a Positive, Encouraging Attitude: Whenever I bring up the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, there's always one or two people saying I just don't understand the issues, the battles, the challenges. Actually - I do. Staying positive doesn't mean that one is naive or in denail. It simply means that you've chosen to stay upbeat, to encourage others, to look for the Silver Lining (there's always one).
If you strive to achieve some selfless goals, you'll likely learn to develop a positive attitude. If you're someone with a positive, encouraging attitude - you probably already know the joy of being selfless, of helping to enhance or improve the lives of others.
I don't know how much time my friend has left, I do know that he touched so many lives, that he's a true inspiration and he will be sorely missed. He's encouraged me to be more selfless as a Servant Leader and a person. He's also inspired me to keep a positive attitude, no matter what!
Sometimes, we act like we have all the time in the world to do the things we want to do - the truth is, we don't!
Hope this post inspires you all to think about what you can do to ensure that you're leaving a life that shows........