You Don’t Have Time

The past few weeks have been particularly heavy for several clients and close friends. Two of my clients lost very close friends of their family entirely unexpectedly. One of my clients finally got pregnant with her first child, losing it the following week. One of my clients endured the first anniversary of losing his dad, who passed well before his time. One of my clients was diagnosed with throat cancer. The father of one of my best friends from college continues his battle with cancer. One of my younger clients unexpectantly lost her Dad. And one of my senior clients lost his Mom.

To say that life is fragile is, to me, the ultimate understatement. And so, every morning when I open my eyes, I thank the Lord for another day. It drives me crazy to see people who waste or squander their time with no apparent direction or focus. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is your one shot, and I hope you’re making the most of it.

The following came to me last weekend on my way home to visit my Mom and Grandmother for Mother’s Day. Three and a half hours going and returning gave me some great time for reflection. And so I’m pulling from some of my all-time favorite movie scenes because they relate to the idea that you don’t have time.

Leverage Your Strengths

“When I was 19, I did a guy in Laos from a thousand yards out. It was a rifle shot in high wind. Maybe eight or even ten guys in the world could have made that shot. It’s the only thing I was ever good at.”
Martin Riggs – Lethal Weapon

Given my introduction, this quote may seem a little out of place; however, Riggs served his country and acted accordingly in the line of duty. His character in Lethal Weapon was a tragic hero, given the suffering he experienced in operating in special forces and then losing his wife through an act of senseless violence. And yet, Riggs identified his strength early in life and spent the rest of his career leveraging his gifts to protect the innocent.

Do you know your strengths? If unsure, a resource such as CliftonStrengths could greatly help. You’ve found your sweet spot for a career when you leverage your passions and strengths with economic viability. Unfortunately, according to Mother Google, only one-third of the workforce today are happy and engaged with their careers. That means the rest are living in the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Lives of quiet desperation.”

Life is too short to do something that doesn’t bring you joy and allows you to serve the world with your unique gifts. So, if you’re unhappy with where you are, start today to do the work needed to change. It may involve acquiring a new skill and investing time; however, time will pass anyway. It’s been said that discipline today weighs ounces, while regret in the future weighs tons. So do the work today so you can look back and be glad you did rather than live in shame for what might have been.

Play the Short Game

“Damn, that Clubber’s strong. Fifteen rounds is a long time. We gotta put him away early. I figure with the pace we’ve set, Rock can last maybe seven or eight rounds. Then we’ll be out of steam, man. We got to put him away early.”
Apollo Creed – Rocky III

I saw the first Rocky in grade school and loved the first four movies. In Rocky III, Apollo Creed and his coach, Tony “Duke” Evers, were viewing a film of Rocky versus Clubber Lang in their first fight. Unfortunately, Rocky was physically mismatched and mentally out of his game due to Mickey, his manager, having an apparent heart attack moments before the fight. Ultimately, Clubber would win by a knockout early in the fight.

In preparing for the rematch, the strategy Apollo and Duke created was based on taking Clubber out quickly. They trained Rocky to be super fast and ultra-conditioned. It was a quick strike strategy designed to wear Clubber out. They knew that if they allowed Rocky to go toe to toe with Clubber for fifteen rounds, the far more powerful Clubber would destroy the former champ.

Until the past few weeks, I had never considered Rocky’s rematch with Clubber Lang a perfect metaphor for life. In real life, Clubber would be represented by Father Time, and as noted in the Bible, Father Time’s record is perfect minus a few noted exceptions. I don’t mean for this to be a depressing post. Instead, I hope it lights a fire under your butt to take action if you’re not living each day to the fullest.

And by all means, plan to live until a golden old age. But in the present, treat each day as if it were your last. You will accomplish so much more and live a far more rewarding life.

There is No Tomorrow

“There is no tomorrow!”
Apollo Creed – Rocky III

One of my first blogs in 2015 was based on this iconic quote, which strikes at the heart of procrastination. It comes from one of my favorite scenes from Rocky III when Rocky and Apollo are sparing in LA.  Rocky had just lost his title defense against Clubber Lang (Mr. T) and was training with Apollo in preparation for the rematch.  For those of you too young to remember, Apollo was working with Rocky to change his fighting style.

As the scene unfolds, Apollo is pounding on Rocky, who is putting up little defense.  Finally, in frustration, Apollo screams, “What’s the matter with you!!?”  Rocky, beaten and exhausted, said, “I’ll get it tomorrow.”  Apollo fires back, “There is no tomorrow!!”

The truth is that Rocky was afraid.  Clubber had just beaten him badly, and his manager Mick had died from a heart attack.  He had lost his self-confidence; for a fighter, confidence is everything.

Most people take the path of least resistance, and procrastination is a killer. Unfortunately, people are under the mistaken belief that action follows feeling.  When it comes to making a significant change in your life and stretching your comfort zones, waiting until you feel like it is not an option.  For most of us, the feeling never gets strong enough to create the needed action to change.

No matter how much you love your career, most people don’t feel like going to work every day. There are many examples of things we do daily out of discipline, commitment, and responsibility where “feeling like it” or “being motivated” has nothing to do with it. The best things in life are located uphill and through struggle. Don’t wait to be motivated to do the work needed to reach success. Act your way into feeling; I promise it will be worthwhile.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

My maternal grandfather was 78 years old when he went to be with the Lord in July 2003. I was 35 then, and I still remember the prophetic words he told me many years before when I was 15. He was 58 at the time, and his words burned in my mind. He said, “Your life will go by so fast, it will blow your mind. You’ll turn around a few times, and the next thing you know, you’ll be my age.” As I write this, I’m only three years from his age when he dropped that little nugget of wisdom on me. Little did I know at the time how right he would be.

If you’re not where you want to be in life in any capacity, take action now. We’re not guaranteed the next five minutes, much less tomorrow. Remember, you don’t have time.

Best of luck in your journey.

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