In a recent (not so typical) Harvard Business Review article, raw emotions were stirred while outlining the fate of a business entrepreneur and what he should do after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. The article sensitively debated his priorities and then some people (removed personally) were asked what they might do if in a similar situation. Most importantly, while admittedly fighting back some tears, it served as a poignant moment of pause as to what really matters in life.
For the individual involved he was a successful and happy businessman, had just married (so yes he was young) and his family, who lived in another country, were very important to him. When you disseminate all that was contained in this article, it essentially boiled down to three priorities as to how he might best lead what remained of his life.
1. Self – what is best for him? What makes him happy, gives a sense of purpose, fuels who he is?
2. Family – who does he wish to be with? What people does he care most about and provides him unconditional love?
3. Society – what does he want to be remembered for? How can he make a difference in the lives of people he does not even know?
This leads to a real moment of reflection, not just for people with terminal illnesses but, in truth, for all of us. Why do we tolerate unhappy jobs? Why do we avoid that family member we have not spoken to in years? Or why not volunteer in some community based project? Are we just too busy and, if so, doing what??
Many of us go through life feeling that these are the cards we have been dealt and therefore we should simply suck it up. Yet we have all read about or seen many inspirational stories about how people overcame adversity. If we are just settling for the status quo and not leading a full life, perhaps that’s our adversity and though it may not be the “slap in the face” of a terminal illness, subliminally it’s a just as bad. So perhaps the questions we should be asking ourselves to initiate our own call to action might be:
1. What can I do for me that truly fuels my passion?
2. What should I do to be closer to the people I love?
3. What do I want society to remember me for?