How can a brush with death wake us up to life?

Hey guys, Mitch J Behan here with a quick thought. Or question really!

There’s no room for regret in this scenario; every hour is so lived that if we were to die tomorrow, we would be satisfied with knowing that we had the most extraordinary time.

Which isn’t to say that if you don’t have this certainty or clarity, you’re not living.

Not at all.

In fact, the majority of people don’t have 100% clarity as to why they’re here.

(No wonder, right? It’s a pretty big thing to know.)

Still, even though these people aren’t clear in their purpose, they are mostly able to muddle through life fine. And things are good. Not great, but good.

The thing is… good is the arch enemy of greatness.

It’s pure kryptonite.

Which is why I am writing these words today.

Nobody should have to feel uncertain, unclear or unsure as to what their mission and calling is.

Nobody should have to lead a life anything less than great.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that when we do tune into our mission, know what footprint we want to make, what legacy we want to leave, that is when we begin to experience life at the next level; this is when we feel the most inspired, connected, powerful and present.

So here’s the question I really want to ask you:

If you had only six months left to live and complete financial freedom, what would you do and how would you spend your time?

Seriously, think about what you would do. I’m not going anywhere. I can wait.

Got an answer? Great.

I can hazard a guess that many people would reply something along the lines of travelling, pursuing their passions, doing the activities which make them happiest, with the family and friends who make them feel most loved.

Which sounds fantastic, I’m sure everyone would agree.

However, if we compare this list of ‘what you would do’ with ‘what you’re doing now’…

…That’s where we hit a snag.

Because here we see a divergence, see that there is a gulf between the life we’re living and the life we want to live; a gap between who we are and the person we want to be.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If we take the steps to determine our highest values and to identify the principles we consider most important, we will be able to bridge the gap to clarity and certainty. To see what shape our mission, footprint and legacy may take.

It’s funny. Whenever I say this at one of  MJB Seminars gigs, (yes I know a shameless plug, but hey!), I frequently hear the same questions crop up in response: “What if I don’t have any values? What if I don’t have a mission?”

And my reply is always the same.

Everybody has values. Everybody has a mission. Everybody has something unique that they bring to the table.

Even if you don’t know what your values are, or what your mission is quite yet. The answers are already inside of you. All it takes is a little digging.

What’s more, it is the hierarchy of your values that determines the quality of your existence, as your values are what give you a purpose and meaning in life.

They are inextricably intertwined with your destiny. It therefore follows that your quality of life arises from doing the things you love and living your values and following your meaning.

The logic is so simple, isn’t it?

In her book The Ethics of Ambiguity, Simone de Beauvoir writes how when we arrive in this world, as children we do not feel the weight of responsibility on our shoulders. Then as time progresses, we mature and start to step up and take control of our life.

Some of us, however, regress to a childhood state, preferring to swap freedom for security; we prefer to allow others to call the shots.

As a result, we are influenced into following the desires of others and so veer from the path that would otherwise lead to us achieving our goals. We swap out our own values, to live someone else’s perception of what we ‘should’ value in life.

We oppress ourselves.

Why do this? Is it because it’s safer than putting ourselves out there, making ourselves vulnerable, putting ourselves in the firing line of judgement and criticism?


But who truly wants to be on their deathbed and only be able to summarise their time on earth as, “It was safe.”

Beauvoir states: “Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying.”

Living someone else’s values? That’s simply maintaining life. It’s only not dying.

Which sounds like a whole heap of fun. (Not.)

That is why so many of us are pushed to develop a savage appetite to learn, to grow by looking inwards and gaining a greater sense of who we are. It’s all in order for us to reclaim our values, to live with purpose and drive.

And one key way of gaining this greater sense of who you are is through aligning your life to live your values, ensuring that you experience as frequently as possible what it is you love best and are most inspired by.

The effect of doing so is invaluable: the greater the sense of who you are, the greater the clarity you will have in what your purpose is, and what difference you are able to make in the world.

It’s a kind of quid pro quo set up, you see.

When you know you have something you’re willing to go to the ends of the earth for, to die for… that’s when you know you’re truly living.

So at long last, I ask: why wait until we have only six months to live, to pursue our true purpose and values? Why not start living that life now? ‘Cause the way I see it, the only other option is to stay the same, to only not die.

(I’ll take a solid pass on that option, thanks.)

And now this is the final question (I promise) that I want to leave with you.

What choice are you going to make? What kind of life are you going to live?

Good… or great?

Mitchell J Behan

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