Life & Death: The Power of a Deadline

If you saw the pile of books beside my bed, you might think I was obsessed with death.

Two books in particular sit there as I write this – one that I just finished, is Parker Palmer’s On The Brink of Everything. And another I’m re-reading is Frank Ostaseski’s The Five Invitations. Written in his 80’s, Palmer’s book explores the last chapter of life with a perspective of all that’s possible – it is bold, courageous and gentle at the same time. Ostaseski, a pioneer in the hospice field and a Zen buddhist, articulates through his ‘Five Invitations’, such compelling wisdom that you’re forced to slow down your reading to avoid missing one word.

One could look at these books and ask “why would you read about death while still firmly amidst the full swing of life?” But it’s only within the confines of the finite that the infinite becomes accessible. Or said another way, there’s great freedom within limitations. Given all the time in the world to complete a task, I’m procrastinating at worst, and just wasting time at best. But give me a deadline and I’m focused – awake and aware of what I need to do.

Death is the ultimate deadline, and the challenge of course, is that we don’t know when it’s coming. We assume we have lots of time, but the reality is largely a guessing game. Facing that life is short, (even if we live until we’re 90), is a kick in the pants to sit up, look around us, and focus our attention on cultivating what matters most.

What matters most from my perspective:

  • Relationships – at home and at work – are they healthy, supportive, and connected?
  • Purpose – am I aware of, and living, what I’m I’m supposed to be on this earth?
  • Growth – am I expanding my awareness and skills to be the best of who I can be?
  • Presence – am I here in this moment right now, or in my head distracted, worried or planning?
  • Impact – am I making a difference?
  • Wholeness – can I embrace everything – both what I got right and what I got wrong?

You may want to add to the above list – doing so would be a valuable exercise.

You hold many roles – as a leader, an individual contributor, an entrepreneur, a student, a teacher, an activist, an artist and so on; but underneath all of these roles you are a human being, and like everyone around you, your time is ticking.

What would change if you were to say YES to the deadline of life?

If this speaks to you, reach out to explore the value of coaching.

At WorkModern we believe that to Work Well With Others you must Live Well With Self.