Ask the Reader: How Do You Manufacture Your Own Heart Attack?
“I could die right now and be happy.”
– Chelsea, spoken numerous times in the past three weeks, and most recently during this little breakfast oasis in the vines near a tiny town outside Mendoza. And no, this did not come easy. All the set tables are downstairs but we wandered up a tiny spiral staircase to find the ultimate breakfast nook. So we brought everything up in about 3 trips. #SoWorthIt
World Tour Update: This morning I’m writing you from a rather spacious patio in our 2-bedroom Airbnb in the center of Mendoza, Argentina. A few hours ago this same patio was flooded with water – thanks to our second failed attempt at using a foreign washing machine.
And if any of you are in Mendoza or Bariloche (our next stop), please reply to this and let us know. We have a dinner party brewing!
Now, time to get very serious…
Today’s article is an “Ask The Reader” post, which means the value of it, for all of us, comes from YOUR response. Live Your Legend has always been a two-way street. It’s not about what my team or I create. It’s about how you and I interact and integrate the big topics we all discuss.
That means today I’d like you to read this and then take a few minutes and give me your honest response in the comments.
The question I’d like you to answer is: “How would you live differently today if you knew you were going to die in exactly six months?”
But before you answer, let me give you a little background…
“How do you manufacture the heart attack?”
This is a question that started to haunt me over a year ago, and now I can’t stop thinking about it.
Most of us know people who have had bad things happen to them. Some people see those tragedies as a wake-up call to make the changes in their lives that they’d been avoiding – usually because they’ve subconsciously believed they’d live forever.
That’s where the tragedy of “I’ll do it tomorrow,” comes in.
But in the face of death, all those stupid excuses for inaction seem to fade away.
An unhealthy man or woman has an unexpected heart attack, and by some miracle, manages to live through it. They suddenly realize how important change is.
They think about the children who they want to see grow into parents, the grandkids they want to see transform into adults, the life they still had dreamed of living out with their spouse, and what they actually want to be remembered for when they’re gone.
Steve Jobs had an incredible quote in his famous 2006 Stanford Commencement Speech on How to Live Before You Die…
“Death is very likely the single best invention of life.”
He came up with that a few years after he managed to survive a rare form of pancreatic cancer that should have killed him within months.
But WHY do we have to almost die to wake the F up?!?
Because the reality is, most of us will not survive that first heart attack. Most won’t miraculously beat the stage 4 cancer we never saw coming.
So that’s why I’ve become obsessed with this question…
How do we manufacture our own heart attack – long before it actually happens?
And it’s why much of my decisions are driven by these questions…
“What action will give me the best chance at avoiding regret? How can I avoid looking back at my life when I’m 80 0r 90 years old and wishing I would have acted differently?”
Or in a more positive way… What action can I take right now that will make me proud of the life I’m living?
If today ended up being my last day on earth, would I be proud of the way I went out?
These questions make most decisions, even the seemingly impossible ones, incredibly obvious.
So your question to answer today is…
If you knew you were going to die in exactly six months, what would you do differently right now?
- How would you live? What would you do? What would you stop doing?
- At your funeral, will you be proud of the way people talk about your character, contributions and achievements?
- If the answer is no, then how could you live differently, starting RIGHT NOW, that would rewrite your story?
These questions and this post were inspired this morning as I was rereading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – the first personal development book I ever read – that my dad gave me nearly 15 years ago.
Last week we spent time with our Live Your Legend Hosts in Salta, Argentina, Matías & his girlfriend Lu, and he told me that The 7 Habits was the most powerful book he’s read. He’s integrated it into every aspect of his life, relationships, family and business. Those habits even specifically helped him save his family in a terrible near-death car accident that happened a couple of years ago (they’re all okay now, thankfully).
After hearing this, I had to reread it (especially given that it had been 15 years!). Matí’s story is incredible, and you’ll hear a lot more about it in an upcoming LYL Superhero Case Study and interview.
But for now, here are a few pictures from the Live Your Legend LOCAL event they put on in Salta (Where I did my best to give a 10-minute opening talk all in Spanish – well, 90% at least… #terrifying). And the dinner parties that followed…
You see, at some point, every single person realizes how short life is.
The sad thing is usually that realization doesn’t come until their life is about to end. When there’s no time left to correct the path.
And that really, really sucks.
But what if we could live today as if we knew, viscerally down to our deepest core, that life was indeed short?
That it could all disappear in an instant.
Think of how differently the world would act and interact.
This is why Chelsea and I decided to set off on our World Tour & Global Dinner Party Project.
We wanted to explore, and while doing that, bring people together over common values and simple, healthy food.
Because we can say with near certainty that when we’re old and wrinkled, sitting next to each other in our rocking chairs (I love rocking chairs, BTW), that we will NOT be telling ourselves…
“Damn! I wish we wouldn’t have taken that trip around the world.”
“I wish we would have hosted fewer dinner parties with fascinating, inspiring people.”
“I wish we would have cooked less healthy food and eaten fewer meals together.”
“I wish we wouldn’t have pursued our dreams.”
No. Not quite.
You and I both know the answers to those questions.
And that is why I’m writing you from this little wooden table on a recently-flooded patio in Mendoza, as I drink yerba maté from the maté gourd Matías and Lu gave me last week.
And that is why Chelsea can say what she did above – that if for some crazy, unexpected reason she had to go right now, she’d die happy.
Because if these were the last words I wrote and the last day we lived, we’d be proud of how we did it all.
And that, more than anything, is what I want for all of you.
So, please tell us in the comments right now…
How would you live today if you knew you were going to die in exactly 6 months? What would you do differently tomorrow and RIGHT NOW?
Then you might want to start doing it.
P.S. And if any of you are in Mendoza or Bariloche (our next stop) – or know anyone we should meet around here, please reply to this or send an email and let us know. We have a dinner party brewing!
Now, do yourself a favor and answer that question in the comments below!