“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, almost 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.”
Thinking about death is uncomfortable. It is life’s great accountability tool. Life’s greatest certainty is that one day it will end. If today was to be your last day, how would you be remembered? Will you be remembered as someone who had it all and created a deep positive impact on those you cared about the most? Or will be you remembered as an executive whose life was shortened by stress and overwork?
Waiting, deferring and defensiveness are behaviors that so often come to the surface when executives are challenged about their health. This is uncharacteristic behavior for the executive. But executives are just not using their professional skills in their personal lives. This is the gap that is hindering their success.
Waiting for the perfect moment or deferring what you want for another time is the stuff of deathbed regrets. When you wait and defer, you miss the opportunities the present is offering you to live the life you want. You can design and build the moments with the ones you care about. What sense does it make to wait?
The executive sees their lack of time as an excuse. The Executive Athlete sees it as an asset—as something that hones their thoughts and actions to a fine point. When it comes to becoming an Executive Athlete, the idle mind is your worst enemy. Airport lounges and weekends at home are examples of where greater choice and time allow the mind to wander away from the important work that needs to be done. Being busy is an asset. The biggest enemy is not time, but your own mind.
So the question that you have to ask yourself is: “Why not now?”
Every executive is busy, but the Executive Athlete never complains that they don’t have enough time to seize the moment when opportunity knocks. Waiting is a no-win move, execution is everything.
“It’s important to shoot for the goal and all the steps you must do to get there, but actually if you just worry about each bit right now, it all comes together. So if that happens to be a meal, if it happens to be exercise — that is what you worry about. You don’t worry about what you are going to do after that.”
—Rosi Fernandez, Managing Director, La Prairie
Rosi is one of four executives who is profiled in my book The Executive Athlete which will be released later this year.