Editor’s note: Frank Bucaro is presenting the CCI webinar Taking the High Road: How To Succeed Ethically When Others Bend The Rules on Tuesday, July 12. There are only a few seats left. For more information and to register, go to https://secure.confertel.net/tsregister.asp?course=539104.
In order to live a more moral and ethically balanced life, I reflect on what I call “The Five Facts of Life.” Acknowledging these helped me better prioritize and experience less stress, more focus, and be more reflective and appreciative of life. In that spirit, I offer them to you. And they are:
Life is difficult
Once I accepted that fact, it seemed to get less difficult. When I attended a commencement speech a few years ago, the speaker made quite an impression on me with the statement: “Life is a bumpy road with the occasional smooth spots along the way, not the other way around.” Many of us seem to go through our days expecting life to be easy and to mostly remain that way. When the “bumps” come our response is often to get upset, angry or super-stressed. The simple act of viewing life as a bumpy road (while reminding myself that it is probably one that I can navigate capably) helps me to respond with equanimity when troubles arise.
You are not that important
In the grand scheme of things, we really are not that important. There have been millions and millions of people who lived before us and only a small number made their way into history books. While babysitting my two-year-old grandson, one day I found myself pondering my own mortality and wondering, “Who will remember me after him?” Then I thought, “Who cares, just as long as he remembers me!” A sense of our place in the universe, living an honorable life and doing a good job with the gifts we have been given seems a worthy pursuit—even if we might not be destined to make the impact of a Mozart, Thomas Edison or Nelson Mandela.
You are not in control
Yet many of us spend a lot of effort trying to be in control. How much of our lives can we actually control anyway? Can we control the weather, the traffic or what happens tomorrow? Have you ever had the experience of everything going nicely according to plan only to have some person or unexpected event come along to “mess things up?” I prefer to view each day as an opportunity for influence (preferably positive) rather than an opportunity for a wrestling match with control.
You life is not just about you
With a little humility we can see that none of us achieved our successes in life totally on our own. Parents, teachers, coaches, mentors—someone else helped us along the way. In that sense we stand on the shoulders of others. So some fair questions are: Are your shoulders strong enough for the next generation? Who will you mentor? Who will you encourage? What can you do?
And the last fact is the biggie…
You are going to die
We try not to think about it, but it is a fact. In some of my programs, I offer what I call the greatest time management principal of them all. It is this: Live each day as though it is your last day and some day you’ll actually be right. This line usually gives way first to audience surprise, then laughter—but it is an easy way to keep priorities clear! Did you enjoy the sunrise this morning? Have you told those important to you how much they mean? Is there a kind word or deed you can offer today? Why wait?