Am I Ready?

The video below is five minutes long and covers Ric’s answer to the title of this week’s blog.

My most recent read was Tuesdays with Morrie, the story of a man dying of ALS.  The book is a case study of “dying with class”, which is an effective way of dealing with a slow death.  If you enjoyed The Last Lecture then you’ll enjoy the book.

Reflecting on the book, I was left with three strategies to apply in my life.

Start each day by asking “Am I Ready?”  To me, the question means… if today turned out to be my last day then do I have things sorted out?  At times, I have a powerful desire to write more and more to “help my kids.” However, looking at my batting average at work, and considering the hundreds of articles on the internet, I have done enough.  The main thing would be leaving them proof that I loved them.

That’s Steve Larsen with his kids. I bet they treasure that photo.  We take a lot of photos.

“Is this how I want to be remembered?” is a question that comes to me during the day.  The question used to imply positioning my personal brand and worrying about my image.  Focusing on image can serve us well; it creates habits, that create emotions, that reinforce values.

The question helps me pause when I find myself swinging to an automatic response, or judgement.  With experience, I’m getting better at filtering my public responses but noise remains in my head.  I’d like my family to remember me as kind, so pausing (before a reflexive rejection) is making me easier to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

My time horizon is short on “being remembered” – the furthest out I consider is dinner time.  My wife is very forgiving and my two-year old daughter can only hold emotions for an hour.  I could get away with being a pain in the ass… …but that’s not how I want to be remembered.

The final tip from Morrie is complete acceptance.  Dying of ALS is a lousy way to go and he talks about the wide range of emotions he goes through at the end of his life.  He shares that he often feels a deep despair about dying.  When these feelings hits, he accepts them and gives himself a few minutes to deeply experience them.  If that means he’s crying in deep despair then that’s OK – for a few minutes.  After completely accepting, he gets back to living his life.  

When I think about the powerful emotions that flow through me, the ones that stick around are the one’s that I resist.  Fear, anger, sadness… by clinging to them, they stick around.  Morrie’s tip about temporarily falling apart, to emerge cleansed, is a great one.

If you get a chance to read the book then I recommend it.