It was a casual Friday afternoon, and I was getting ready to hit the juice bar and then go home for a relaxing night. I got a call from one of my work colleagues, like I normally do late on a Friday. This colleague informed me that someone I worked with had passed away.
The fellow in question was a gentleman named Craig. I use the word gentleman because he was one in the truest sense. He had a 1920’s-like charm about him, and a voice that could calm even the most anxious person. I had never met this man in person, but I spoke to him almost daily as we were working together. The bizarre thing was that he had died three weeks before I received the news.
Being in another state of Australia, people just didn’t pass the message on. I can say honestly that when he was alive, I wish I had gotten to know him better. Our calls were probably too business-like and not focused enough on the important stuff. It’s this fact that might explain why we never completed a business deal together in over twelve months.
After about six months of knowing Craig, he came to work one day coughing really badly. Like many people, I thought it was just the flu. Weeks passed, and he still had the same cough. No serious medical attention was sought until a few months later. As it turns out, he had lung cancer even though he’s not a smoker.
He left behind four children and a loving family. So what can we learn from this seemingly sad story? What’s your damn point, Tim? Keep reading, and you’ll find out.
I want to share with you 4 things I learned from Craig that helped me live more in the moment:
1. Our heart is always bleeding
It seems like right now, every second or third week someone I care about is dying. This is the very nature of our existence, and all of our hearts are constantly bleeding. The more influence and success you have, the more people you know, and therefore the more likely tragedy will strike when you least expect it.
“None of us can stop our hearts bleeding because they are supposed to”
We’ve all got pain to deal with, and every one of us is trying to keep a brave face. What if you stopped trying to keep a brave face and focused on opening your heart rather than closing it?
What I mean by this is that, rather than hide your pain or pretend that you’re perfect, why couldn’t you share every part of yourself? That’s what I’m trying to do and yet I’m a long way from perfect. In fact, I hate the word perfect and you should too. I’m flawed like the rest of our species and proud of it.
Take stories like the one I shared about Craig, and rather than be permanently sad, use the lessons to allow your heart to bleed temporarily, and then triumph again. We’re here to rise and fall. Make sure you spend more time rising than you do falling. Change the odds in you favour to transform your life.
2. Always be kind
This man Craig taught me one thing if nothing else: always be kind, even in the face of stress and pressure. Working in finance, Craig had to deal with large amounts of stress and very demanding clients. No matter what, he always wanted to be kind.
You couldn’t shake the guy or make him feel like any less of a man. People could say things about him, and he didn’t care. He knew who he was and insisted on being an exceptional human being in all scenarios.
This lesson is one that I have worked really hard on, and I encourage you to do the same. For me, I started making small shifts. Today, I asked a homeless man what would make his day. He told me that a bottle of Coke would be awesome. Now anyone who knows me knows that Coke would be the last drink on Earth I would endorse.
In this situation, though, it wasn’t about me or my beliefs. The crux of it was about being kind. This homeless man wanted a bottle of Coke, and I was not going to deny him. I went and got his drink, brought it back for him, and saw his face light up.
Some of you might say that that’s only one face on one day, and that’s correct. What you might be missing is that when one face lights up it can, in turn, light up another.
“When we’re kind, we demonstrate that strangers do care”
If we all did one small act like buying a bottle of Coke for someone, maybe we could change the world.
By being kind, we’re living in the moment and not being caught up in the race that is going on in our mind. Changing the world seems such an enormous task, but it’s not. Like success, it’s all the small actions we take that make the big difference.
The last point I want to make on kindness is that when you receive this magical gift, acknowledge it. Every day, I get lots of nice messages on social media and via email. Rather than let this gift inflate my ego, I make sure I respond to every single one with a sentence of inspiration.
It takes up my time, but it also allows me to appreciate the moment. Every message fuels me to keep on writing and to find the nuggets of gold from the events of my life, and then share them with you all. It’s not about being significant; it’s about accepting kindness and giving it straight back.
Follow the way Craig lived his life and be kind to as many people as you come into contact with. Once you’ve mastered this gift, give it to someone else and watch their life change. Now go forth and get to work young padawan.
3. Play all out
Almost everyone (especially me) is not giving it our all. What I mean by this is that we have periods of success and positivity, and then we have dark times that follow. The dark times are needed, but the trouble is that they make up way too much of our life.
Those dark times stop us from playing all out and not giving a F&%$ about anything. If you could get some perspective on how awesome it is to be alive as a human being, your circumstances will entirely change. You’ll no longer eat your life away with junk food.
You’ll pour the alcohol down the sink and refuse to go to venues that are designed to numb rather than inspire. Playing all out equals living in the moment. Playing all out is the acknowledgment that you understand how crucial this very moment is right now.
Playing all out is accepting your mortality, fist pumping the air, and giving more than 100% because it would be criminal not to. It’s about more than just participating; it’s about taking it to a level that no one around you is prepared to take it to.
It’s being the guy or girl who people look at and wonder what the heck is wrong with you. It’s the resilience that makes you forget about those judgemental eyes and allows you to focus on the moment. All you have is this moment. The next moment is not guaranteed.
4. You’re here for a blink of an eye
If you look up at the stars each night, you’ll realize pretty quickly that we are all here for a blink of an eye. Our problems are so small compared to the giant mass that is our universe. Time will keep rolling on, and even if the human race dies off one day, the universe will remain.
There will always be something bigger than us. This idea is very important because it stops us from both sweating the small stuff and caring about what everyone else thinks. You and I are both powerful creatures, and because our time is so limited, we should learn to appreciate time.
We should learn that time is all we have and it doesn’t stop for anything. In my own life, I’ve had the chance at love and sometimes hesitated. What if I just stopped thinking about what could happen, and just told the person how I felt right then and there?
If I love them in that moment, then I should tell them so because just like Craig, they could be gone tomorrow. If the worst happens, and we haven’t told that one person how much we love and care about them, we run the risk of having regret.
Let’s put the games of relationships and business aside, and be our authentic selves. Tell the world who you are and live it every day until your last breath. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.