In this month’s Leadership Lessons ezine, Mark writes about living as though your life depended on it.
The quality of your life is a choice! You can feel fully alive and joyful most of the time, not just some of the time. The key is to live like your life depends on it. But how?
For the answer to Mark’s question, you can read the entire article here. When you’re done, we invite you to come back here and leave us a comment with your insights and opinions on this issue.
Great insight into successful living. In borrowing from your Checklist for a Successful Day I’m going to knock 2 items off the list, namely…
* Did I compliment or praise someone I live or work with today?
* Have I taken time to reflect on the lessons of the day?
…just by reading your newsletter and saying, “thanks for the message, great job!”
In response to your articcle “Live Like Your Life Depended On It”, I need to tell you and your listeners a story.
I need to change the title just a little bit: “Live Like Your Friends Depend on It”. I must warn you, this story does not have a happy ending, but it is real and it reminds me of our duty as friends.
One of my tours in the Navy was on the nuclear powered submarine USS Dace. We pulled into the American Virgin Islands for a 40 hour port visit. The port was Frederiksted on St. Croix. I worked in the engineering department that operated the nuclear power plant. Because the stay was so short, we were not going to shut down the plant. We split the normally three shifts into four shifts.
Two shifts were required to be on the submarine – for redundancy, so the other two could go on liberty. Each liberty shift would be about 20 hours.
My particular division had 18 people in it. I wasn’t a “titled” leader in Machinery Divison, but I was one of the senior people in the division. I actually ran a smaller laboratory division of 5 personnel. Unfortunately, because of some of shipmates poor life decisions, we were down to 3 people in my division. Bob, Tom, and me.
Bob and Tom were fresh from school. Between the two of them, they had about 3 months of at-sea experience. Tom was nineteen years old and Bob was twenty. Tom knew he had a drinking problem and was trying to quit. Before this run, he had managed to stay on the wagon for about two weeks. We had been at sea for a little over a week, so he had gone almost a month without a drink.
Tom and I were the only qualified lab technicians on the boat. One of us had to stay on the ship at all times. The way the shfits were divided, I would be on liberty with the first group and he would be with the second.
Because of the way the groups were split, most of Tom’s closer friends were on my shift. Tom came to me and asked me if I would swap places with him. I had no real intention of doing a lot of partying, so I agreed so he could be with this regular buddies.
It was the last time I would see Tom alive.
I took Bob aside before they left and told him to keep an eye on Tom. He hadn’t had a drink in almost 4 weeks and I told Bob I depended on him to help Tom keep it up. Ted, another junior sailor was also going on shore with Bob and Tom. I gave Ted a similar charge. They both promised me to keep Tom in their sight.
Tom had a few drinks. Bob and Ted later told me they didn’t see any harm in it. Circumstances found them walking the streets. Tom was a little crazier than he usually was when he drank. He was shouting things like “Nobody cares, anyway” and “leave me alone”, when somebody would try to keep him from drinking.
Tom was looking for a way to get into a hotel pool. Ted and Bob were keeping their promise of keeping Tom in their sight – until they came across an iron fence between two hotels. The fence separated the street from the alley between the two hotels. Tom grabbed the iron rods of the fence and shouted. Dogs came from the dark and barked furiously at the three sailors through the fence.
Tom was not shaken by the dogs. He climbed the fence and disappeared into the alley. Bob and Ted were afraid to follow Tom.
From here, the story is that of the security guard that shot Tom.
Tom was on the roof of the hotel, and making noise. A tenant from the neighboring hotel had called security to report a man on the roof. When the guard investigated, he said he called out a warning. He said he warned anyone that was there that he had a gun. Tom jumped from behind a small structure and startled the guard. The guard shot one round from his 38 special, hitting Tom squarely in the chest. Tom died instantly.
I never held a grudge against Bob or Ted. I couldn’t second guess their decisions. They tried to keep Tom from drinking and they tried to stay with him as I had asked. If anything, we became closer, notwithstanding our age difference.
Ted accompanied the body back to Pottstown, PA where Tom was from. I had to inventory his personal goods in his barracks room. I found a letter to his girlfriend that he never finished. He told her he had stopped drinking.
I couldn’t help but cry.
When you follow your advice, and live outwardly – not inwardly, you lose your life in the service of others – and life becomes more meaningful.
Please remember that each one of us makes a difference – even if we don’t see the results right away.
Thanks for letting me share that with you, Mark. And thank you for getting us back to our fundamental mission – to serve others.