Talking about marketing every day gets boring — so let’s talk about death…
I’m certain this will come back around to marketing, selling, persuasion, and business eventually. But seriously, let’s spend a little time talking about dying.
The people I’ve known and observed who live their life to the fullest are those who embrace death.
If you SERIOUSLY consider that today could be your last, how does that impact your behavior?
Would you be happy with the last 24 hours if you went to the grave?
Not your external circumstances, necessarily. Not the things around you. But how YOU responded to them. And how you behaved.
Were you UNABASHEDLY YOURSELF for the last 24 hours, in a way that you’d be proud of if today were your last?
Most people go through life acting like it will go on forever. Like they can forever think about how things will be better in the future. And blaming their past for everything about their life that they don’t like.
I wish you a long and happy life. But more importantly, I wish you incredible joy RIGHT NOW.
And that joy right now, in this moment, comes from killing the past and future, and doing what’s right, right now.
When an older person goes “unfiltered,” it’s often because they’ve been faced with death…
Just imagine, you’ve spent decades placating to everyone else, stifling yourself. You’ve figured that one day — a day that never comes — you’d finally speak your mind.
Then, you feel your body aging. Things don’t work like they used to. Every sickness hits a little harder, and takes more to recover from. Then, maybe a bigger sickness — a heart attack, cancer, or something equally deadly — strikes.
Maybe you don’t die from it, yet. Maybe you even overcome it, and can call yourself a survivor, for now.
But you know it could’ve killed you. You’ve come face-to-face with death.
Suddenly, you’re done with the mundane squabbles and piddly sh— that made you pull your punches before. Suddenly you’re tired of wearing all the masks of civility, and the thousand little lies you told to protect others’ senses.
This shouldn’t be an excuse to be a total jerk.
Just because you’ve faced death doesn’t mean you have to take the world down with you.
But coming face-to-face with your own mortality changes you — there’s no way for it not to. And, in so many cases, it forces you to be honest. Not just with the world. But with yourself. About what you really want and need to do before you check out of this life for good.
Everybody should have a near-death experience…
I say this tongue-in-cheek. I don’t literally mean you should bring yourself to the edge of real physical death.
And yet, I do find that people who’ve faced catastrophes when younger tend to get the benefits younger, too.
During Christmas break of my sophomore year of college, I almost died.
I was finding parking for the Christmas Eve service at my parents’ church. It was icy, snowing. I had to cross a 4-lane road through town, and had a flashing red light.
I didn’t see the Ford F-150 as it approached — my vision was part-blocked by a large snow pile. It smashed into the driver’s side of my Mercury Tracer station wagon. Thankfully, I’d crossed far enough that it hit the back door — not the front.
My car spun around the intersection and across all four lanes of traffic. My head smashed against the window. I got a concussion — and don’t remember much between the accident and after the ambulance had already arrived.
I walked away, thankfully.
And it changed me. That was the first time I’d truly faced death. The first time I went through an experience that it was 100% clear I may not have survived, if even a tiny detail had changed.
This set a new trajectory for my life. I focused more on meaning. I quit doing a ton of things I’d done to self-sabotage, because life was too comfortable.
But you don’t have to be in a near-fatal car accident or get a deadly disease.
You can become the best you today when you remember that you will die…
There’s a Latin phrase, memento mori, that I’ve been fascinated with since the first time I heard it.
Paraphrasing the translation, it means remember, you will die.
Although it can easily be misconstrued as morbid, it’s actually incredibly life-affirming. When you meditate on the phrase and the idea that you will die, it forces you to put your every action in perspective.
You are alive, right now. You can do things today to live your best life.
You have that opportunity today — but you may not have that chance tomorrow.
What will you do today to be who you are meant to be and do what you are meant to do?
What’s important to you in the context and full knowledge of your coming death? What really matters?
What mistakes are you making today that you’d rather not be your legacy if you were to die before dusk falls?
What lies and masks do you wear that conceal your true self, that you’d rather not let color how others see and understand you?
What joys and passions are you putting off for a tomorrow that may never come?
I am not perfect…
In fact, as I write this, I’m probably writing it as much as a personal meditation as I am for your benefit.
There are things I do and ways I behave that, in the context of my mortality, I need to change.
We are all a work in progress. Just because I went through a near-death experience nearly a decade and a half ago does not mean this is a permanent change.
Every day is an opportunity to let who I was yesterday — with all my shortcomings and flaws — die, and become someone better today.
In every action and interaction, I have an opportunity to kill off who I’ve been and become who I am becoming.
The same is true for you.
This is why memento mori is an idea and meditation that has been passed down through culture for thousands of years in western cultures — and has parallels of equal pedigree in the east as well.
It’s a constant journey, but one with immediate benefits…
We humans have an innate sense of how others are showing up. In marketing and selling, you can call this a BS filter. The moment your prospect thinks you’re BS, they bail on you. If not physically, then mentally.
People don’t respond to and aren’t attracted to BS.
In our hearts and guts, we reject BS and embrace the truth.
That’s why even when we disagree with the surface details of the ramblings of our elderly relative who has gone unfiltered, we have a certain awe and attraction to the fact they have.
Because we can’t bring ourselves to it, even when we desire to in our heart of hearts.
And yet that feeling of can’t can be your magic key.
Let can’t die. Try it. And see the response you get. It won’t always make you friends. But then let that need to be friends with everyone die, too. And then see how it feels.
There’s something interesting — fascinating — that will happen.
You WILL push some people away. Those who were attracted to the lie. But your truth will also bring others closer. It’ll be more attractive than you can imagine now.
Be vulnerable. Practice dying. Let the masks and lies and little-ego trappings perish. And let your light shine.
You’ll simultaneously need less and get more of all the positive business results you’ve pursued before.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,