We’ve all heard clichés such as do what you love, be thankful for everyday and the formidable life is short, live everyday like it’s your last. But how many people can actually say that they understand these words and actually know how to use them to live their best life; that when times are great to truly appreciate those moments and say thank you; when times are good, to try and make them great; and when times are bad, to try to make them good. If the difference between great, good and bad moments is perception, what is your perception of your life?
What is your code that you live by? What do you make non-negotiable or unacceptable in your life? What would you say if you were to write yourself a letter describing your mantra or words that you live by?
Last week I attended a business training event in Austin, Texas. At the end of the four day training, our instructor had given us this very opportunity to write ourselves a letter to put everything into perspective. The instructions were simple – write whatever you want – no boundaries, no restrictions. We had five minutes to compose this letter. Talk about pressure. What do you say to yourself? Do you give yourself one of those adult ‘realistic’ pep talks or do you really go for it and include Dr. King’s inspirational words from his “I have a dream” speech.”? Do you give yourself a hard time, because you’re not living up to your potential or not where you thought you’d be at this point in your life?
Thirty seconds had passed, my page was still blank. The good news was we were given a pencil to write with. I could always erase if I needed to. “Focus Craig. Let go. Just start writing”, I tried to convince myself. The clock continued to count down. Only four minutes left. Then images of everything imaginable, from places I’ve been to experiences I’ve had, slowly began appearing in my mind’s eye like a Baywatch montage with Queen’s We Will Rock You serving as the soundtrack. Memories of the past and dreams for the future had come to a crescendo. The pencil in my hand started jiving across the paper like the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance. Then just like Jeff Probst’s famous words on Survivor, the tribe had spoken and time was up.
Below is my rendition of my code that I wrote that day. With the exception of a few spelling and grammatical fixes, it’s as is, unedited.
As I sit here pondering what to write, many things come rushing to my brain. But I need to start somewhere so here goes:
When you wake up every morning plan your day around the people you love and the things that are most important to you. Carry that plan out with action, love and compassion. Be a great listener and try to understand the needs of others. Offer guidance to help others without the sacrifice of doing it for them. To be extraordinary all you need to do is to consistently give a little extra; more than the ordinary. When you are frustrated, ask yourself what you can do to improve your situation. If things get tough, stay in line.
Be grateful for everything you have, especially all the love, support and encouragement you receive from everyone around you. Take the greatest care of yourself and of those you love especially your wife and kids. They matter the most and always come first.
Thank you for your willingness to learn and ability to continue to grow. Use these traits to help others become the best they can possibly be. Show them how to make their dreams a reality, by living yours. And life will give you everything you desire.”
-Austin, TX April 13, 2008 – Thanks Keith for the great exercise.
Share your code below and feel free to comment and encourage others as well.
Update: Don’t under estimate the power of this exercise and how powerful words can be. Take five minutes write down your words to live by. After five minutes is up, edit it and rewrite it. Put it somewhere where you’ll see it. Read it every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep. This serves two purposes – to condition your actions toward what you have written and to review your day to see if you’re actually walking your talk. Be honest with yourself and go for what it is you really want. Write your words and follow them. You’ll be amazed at the results. It can be life changing.