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The Last Lap

"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching" - Gerard Way

Byrd Baggett

July 2015

My philosophy in life is to live every minute as if it might be my last and learn like I may live forever. This philosophy was put to the test in June when my wife was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. Even though the prognosis is positive and Jeanne has an 85% chance of living a healthy and normal life, I realized that I was only living 50% of my philosophy - learning like I may live forever. I'm always reading books on the topics of life and leadership, but I realized last week that I wasn't being true to the most important part of my philosophy – living every minute as if it might be my last.

My nature is that I worry too much about the future – will we have enough money to retire? Will my health hold out? Will my children be ok? Will our business continue to grow? Will Jeanne make a full recovery? And the list goes on and on...

Jeanne's diagnosis put things into perspective for me and I am committed to truly living every minute as if it might be my last. Here are a few actions that I'm going to take to live up to the commitment:
  • Every morning, list three things or people for which I am grateful.
  • Write three handwritten notes every week to people who have positively impacted my life and/or to those who need a dose of hope.
  • Don't judge anyone.
  • Bring Jeanne flowers every week.
  • Cherish the little things that are beautiful about my wife. Tell her and don't take for granted that she knows.
  • Meditate every morning for 15 minutes.
  • Experience the beauty of Mother Nature by taking a monthly trip to one of Tennessee's beautiful state parks.
  • Smile more.
  • Pray more.

In closing, I hope this message will inspire you to live your life fully and don't take the next breath or the next minute for granted. As many of you know, I ran track for the University of Texas and believe that a relay race is a great metaphor for life. As you're aware, there are four laps in each relay. Given the assumption that I will live 80 years, each lap represents 20 years of living. Using this metaphor, I'm on my last lap! In the sport of track, the last leg is referred to as the anchor leg, the most important part of the relay, the leg that determines if the team wins a medal. But instead of running faster, I'm going to slow down and enjoy my last lap; I'm truly going to live every minute as if it might be my last! The following poem speaks as to why I'm going to run the last lap with the right pace and grace...

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, or row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day of a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering - waiting, waiting for the station.

"When we reach the station, that will be it," We cry. "When I'm 16." "When I buy a new 450 Mercedes Benz." "When I put the last kid through college." "When I have paid off the mortgage." "When I get a promotion." "When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after."

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.

It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regrets and fear are the twin thieves who rob us of today.

So, stop pacing aisles and counting miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, smell more roses, watch more sunsets, smile more, hug more, love more, laugh more – cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough. – Anonymous

Run the race, your race, the only race you can run, the race you were born to run.

True Growth Takeaway: Live your life to its fullest.

True Growth Journal Question: What three actions are you going to take to live a deeper and more meaningful life?

About the author: Byrd Baggett is a best-selling author and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). He has been helping organizations develop authentic leaders and passionately engaged teams since 1990. His corporate experience includes sales and management careers with two Fortune 500 companies. He is a Member of LWM III Consulting LLC and the creator of the True Growth brand. Byrd is the author of 15 books on the topics of sales, customer service, leadership and motivation.

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