After David Cassidy died, his daughter revealed that his last words were, “so much wasted time.” Darren Hardy tells the story of his father’s friend, one that pursued building a real estate fortune, where during his final visit in the hospital before the man died, he said, “I missed the point.” Then there is the story about a man who was asked at the end of his life if he had any regrets and his answer was, “I wish I was the man I was meant to be.”
When the end of our days come, will we stand on that final doorstep, looking back at what we have left behind, feeling regret for passing up opportunities leading to non-accomplishments, or be satisfied with the output of our actions, personal dreams and goals that will define our lives to the loved ones we leave behind? While morbid in thinking of what our final moments and thoughts are going to be, as I get older, I am beginning to think that I would rather start to answer those questions now, as opposed to later. Many years ago, when I struck out in my own business, one of the answers I gave for doing so was that I did not want to one day look back and say, “I had the opportunity to do this and did not.” We all know people who have said, “I could have done…”, or “I was approached with something that could have become…”
While I think that we spend part of our time and brain power to figuring out what other peoples’ expectations of us are, we need to spend time on our own expectations, which means we need to identify our own potentials. We have all met people in our lives, whether casual acquaintances, family, friends or celebrities, that were talented, but crashed and burned. For example, we used to know a guitarist who was extremely talented and was able to position himself into playing with a real touring band. However, he was a heroin addict who lost that extremely lucrative gig. I realize that drug addiction is an illness, but there are still choices that we make that either put us in front of harm’s way or help us to avoid the pitfalls that can trap us. The last time I heard about him, he celebrated a positive success by falling off the wagon.
In Charles Dicken’s classic story, A Christmas Carol (whether you have read the book, seen any variation of the movie, or refer to the Mr. McGoo special), Ebenezer Scrooge had the opportunity to witness his own eulogy. If we had a chance to watch those final words being spoken, would they be the words that you would want / expect to hear? Will they reflect words that state that we lived up to our potential? Or just went with the flow? While Scrooge is a fictitious character, he recognized his failing, saw the impact of his ways, realized his potential and made the necessary changes to achieve a better outcome. While we live and breathe, we all have the opportunity to live meaningful lives and to write the stories that future generations will tell. This way when we stand before that last exit door, we can step through knowing that our time here was worthwhile.