Post written by Mic Johnson, Blogger | LinkedIn Trainer | WordPress Content Guy | Social Coach | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk Fanatic | Cancer Volunteer
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been faced with the death of the father of a very good friend of mine. His name was Ralph Butler and he was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known…always encouraging, helpful, a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend.
Not only had I known him since I was a little kid, but we also were forever bonded by the fact that we both love Kansas Jayhawk Basketball.
Over the years, Ralph and I had many conversations about various Jayhawk players, teams and games. I’m going to miss him dearly, but feel confident in knowing that Earth’s loss was Heaven’s gain.
Around the time of Ralph’s passing, an article I remembered reading about a year ago resurfaced…and I can’t stop thinking about it.
I’ve shared it with so many people via email and my social networks…and I felt compelled to share it here too.
You can read the entire article by clicking here: “Top Five Regrets Of The Dying”...and I’ve attached an image below that illustrates the five points.
It’s one of the more thought provoking articles I’ve come across and it really puts things into perspective when you find you need to slow your life down and re-examine where your life is…and where you want it to be. I want to take a minute or two to share my personal and professional perspective on each point of the article.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
How difficult is this one, right? For many of us, it started with parents, coaches, teachers, etc. having expectations of us as we grew up.
As you get older and start your career, then it’s meeting expectations of clients, managers, team members, and more. I believe that somewhere along the way, and maybe several times along the way, we all experience this moment where we don’t feel like we are being true to who we are.
It’s difficult, as just one example, to try to be one person at work…and another person in your personal life. I understand why it happens and how people can get caught up in that cycle, but, for me, it’s not natural or authentic.
I played that game for many years of my career and now, whether you’re a friend of mine, a client of mine, or both…what you see is what you get.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
Been there, done that. Not going back.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t value hard work and a good work ethic, but I’m going to do everything in my power to never again sacrifice my health, happiness or family because of a job or career. I learned that one the hard way and my wife and I have both had those moments along the way.
From my perspective, it’s not about the money, the house, the car, the clothes…the possessions…it’s about life experiences with people you love and helping as many people as you can along the way.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
If you know me, follow me on any social networks, or have ever read any of my blog posts, you know this one isn’t a problem for me! :) I credit my mother Beverly for that. I specifically remember a moment when I was growing up when my mom said, “Mic, it’s ok to cry…it’s ok to feel.” That was the permission I needed and I never looked back.
If you live a life where you don’t express your feelings and you “keep throwing things in the closet” to be dealt with later, I guarantee you that you’ll reach a point where that closet is overflowing and eventually it will all come pouring out.
Better to deal with your feelings and let yourself be vulnerable…in life and in business…than thinking you have, or will find, all of the answers yourself. Life, and business, simply don’t work that way.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
If a friend needs a phone number or email address for another friend, I’m the one they get in touch with. As you get older, it’s not as easy to do because life gets busy with kids, work, etc., but you also have to make the effort. It doesn’t have to be every week..heck, it doesn’t have to be every month…and with social media, it’s easier now than it has ever been at any point in human history.
If you’ve lost touch with friends whose friendships you value, reach back out and make a habit of staying in touch. I’ve always said I don’t want to be the guy standing at someone’s funeral saying, “Man, he reached out to me so many times and I just didn’t make the effort.”
Some people make fun of me because I’m an avid user of Facebook. I do it not only to keep in touch with people and to share life’s highs, lows, challenges, vacations, and yes, pictures of my favorite foods and restaurants…but I also do it so people don’t feel like I’m ever too far away. Tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn enhance personal relationships if you use them the right way and take time to engage with people.
I also use Facebook frequently because I’m keenly aware that it’s a living documentation of my life (at least since the inception of Facebook) and that when my time on Earth is over, the people I leave behind will be able to go back and look at some of the great moments of my life and reminisce. Again, I won’t be too far away.
I lost my dad to cancer over 18 years ago. That was long before Facebook, email, digital cameras and smartphones were around. Today, I would do anything to have that kind of history of my dad’s life.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.
This is the one that I personally need to work on the most. I have plenty of happy memories and do the best that I can to enjoy and be thankful for each day. But I also let the weather, travel delays, business issues, etc. get the best of me sometimes. When you stop and think about it, happiness really is a choice.
I need to do a better job of reminding myself of the line from the poem I read at my dad’s funeral so many years ago…..”Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
What did you think about that article? About this post? What other lessons have you learned? What other things do you do so you don’t live a life of regret? Share your comments below or feel free to email me at [email protected].