At moments of departure and a change of life, people capable of reflecting on their actions usually get into a serious state of mind. At these moments they usually take stock of the past and make plans for the future. ― Leo Tolstoy
Time is how we have learned to measure the passing of life.
Whether calculated in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years time is fleeting. That is NOT bad news — unless this limited resource is wasted.
Whether considered in years, months, weeks, days, hours, or minutes they are all opportunities to experience fresh starts. That IS good news, unless the opportunity is missed.
One of my clients recently revealed some of what he wants to accomplish in life. The challenge he faces is the reality of how much time is left to get his list done. Not the feeling that there’s not enough time in the day, rather a growing awareness of his mortality.
To make the most of life is the challenge we all face. One ancient Hebrew verse expresses the very human plea for help from God: Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
What’s your perspective?
My work involves more and more travel; one thing I still love about flying is the view. Flying from Denver to Montana, United Flight 5535 follows along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains.
Over the past few months I’ve been in awe seeing the changes from fall to winter. Each trip I am amazed at the beauty, grandeur, and wide open space.
Beyond that, the view from 30,000 feet reframes our activity on earth as busy, ant-like movement of people on pencil-wide trails; symmetrically arranged tiny neighborhoods and cityscapes that look like architectural models … a reality check of sorts.
Wisdom is the ability to see life from a higher perspective. This may look like the ability to make sensible decisions based on personal knowledge and experience. Or decision-making based on your thinking, judgment, and knowledge of life.
One way to gain wisdom is to cultivate a mindfulness of life’s brevity.
What happens when you recognize that your life is a limited resource during which you may take action, live connected, or make contribution?
Perhaps you’ve heard this quote from Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement address:
Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. (Emphasis added)
What changes would you make – moving into 2012 – if you concentrate on what is truly important?
What’s your Story?
Another way to gain wisdom is to look for truth in the Story and be intentional regarding how you are writing your Story.
None of us can re-write history; but we are gifted with the incredible opportunity to make decisions and take action today that will allow us to write a new story.
Wisdom allows us to see things from another perspective; not only the facts but the people in our Story. How much unnecessary conflict and stress can you eliminate when we choose to see beyond the conflict to see the people?
Indeed, fear drives us to exhibit ancient behavior – survival mode; this means we tend to run for our lives or kill the opponent when in conflict. However, there is a third option: stay and engage as people…people with a story which includes fears, hopes, and dreams … ideas and solutions when we are encouraged, accepted, and loved.
Wisdom allows us a fresh perspective and the ability to see the possibilities.
Exercise: Think of a relationship conflict
Imagine sitting with me on that United Flight departing Denver; see the Rockies, gain that perspective. Notice the “size” of even the Rockies, not to mention the cars, buildings, and cities; gain the perspective.
Now, back to the “problem” – the conflict with <name of person> … think about your answer to these questions:
- What do you want for this relationship; control or influence?
- What is your desired outcome?
- What do you wish for the other person?
- What are you accepting as true in the situation? Is it true? How do you know it is?
- What assumptions are you making?
When we ask ourselves such questions – especially in emotionally charged situations – we are creating space for some wisdom.
Wisdom not only helps us recognize the brevity of life but what matters in life: people.
How do you grow as a leader and enlarge your influence? Develop a heart of wisdom.
Happy New Year!
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