Why Not Live Life Like You Mean It?

By Stephen Covey in Intention on December 11th, 2008 / One Comment

It is so easy to let Ron do it. Or, in other words, to do it “ LateR on” . Why do today what we can put off till tomorrow? Perhaps this human tendency to sacrifice the important to the urgent is exacerbated today by quantum leaps in our life expectancy. Baby boomers around the world are being blessed by a second adult life. Sixty is the new Thirty and all that.

We googled “life expectancy” and found a life expectancy calculator at livingto100.com. For $5 I learned I will live to be 97. Wow, 60 really is the new 30. Who knows how accurate this is, but the doctor on the site is the medical advisor to a Sky One television show in Britain called Change the Day You Die. Interesting.

This insight started when I was listening to Tom Peters the other day on my ipod. I sat up straight when he mentioned that Mozart died at 35. Whoa! Think of what he accomplished in what is today a “half life.” A few minutes research online and I discovered several others that died in their 30s: Gershwin (38) Princess Di (36) Alexander the Great (32) Van Gogh (37), Bob Marley (36), Marilyn Monroe (36). Lest this insight cease to be brief, we will let this short list suffice. This idea really hit home last week when we were sobered by learning that our friends’ uncle died unexpectedly at 51. We never know.

In the SPEED of Trust workshop we challenge people to identify an important relationship that they would like to restore lost trust in. Some take it to heart and create a break through for themselves. Others allow the opportunity slip through their fingers and let Ron do it. This is usually a life pattern even with the most successful people. They seem to master their careers but fail to face and master their most important relationships.

A recent participant took it on and restored trust with a sister who had not spoken to her in over a year. Another changed his relationship with a stepdaughter who is now his best friend. Another worked with a boss of 10 years and got promoted. The common sentiment of people who have the courage and resolve to take the challenge is that they wish they had done it years ago. They now resolve to not live life with broken relationships but to change their behavior.

To have what we call a “behavior shift.” We have identified 13 behaviors of high trust common to leaders around the world. But learning behaviors and living them are two different things.

Changing your behavior is tough. According to a Fast Company article in May 2005, “about 600,000 people have bypasses in the U. S. A. and 1.3 million have angioplasties.” In order for the procedure to last and extend their lives, they need to change their lifestyle. Now this is a life and death motivation for change. Yet “.…two years later 90% have not changed their lifestyle.” Apparently fear of dying puts them into denial and they ignore it.

There is hope. John Kotter of Harvard says “Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people’s feelings…In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions not just thought.” Dr Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at U C San Francisco, “persuaded Mutual of Omaha to fund research. Doctors took 333 patients with severely clogged arteries.”

They put them on a regimen of diet and exercise. “ The program lasted for only a year. But after three years, the study found, 77% of the patients had stuck with their lifestyle changes—and safely avoided bypass or angioplasty surgery…Instead of trying to motivate them with the “fear of dying,” Ornish reframes the issue. He inspires a new vision of the “joy of living” …”Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear,” he says.

Mutual of Omaha saved millions of dollars because the patients in the study did not have to have surgery. The high cost of low trust is costing you and your organization in a similar way and exacting what we call a trust tax on your important relationships and your personal and professional “bottom-line.” What are the costs of your low trust and broken relationships to you? Promotions? Profit? Productivity, love, joy, satisfaction? Whatever it is, why not take it on trust once and for all. If not now – when?

Whatever you have accomplished so far in your life, the possibility for you to do something worthy is tremendous. Whether you have another half-life ahead of you or you return home tomorrow, why not live life like you mean it? All we ask is that you strengthen trust in one simple relationship, and then another, which will lead to another, and on you go and pretty soon you have a life. You have influence. Relationships are the currency of life.

People on their deathbed talk about relationships, not money. The irony is people with high trust relationships are more likely to make more money, be better parents, be promoted, get a raise, be given the best projects and have overall more financial success. You can have the best of both worlds: rich personal relationships and career satisfaction. Most of all you will increase your influence and thus your ability to make a bigger difference for having lived.

A recent cover story of BusinessWeek Magazine asks: Is Your Company FAST Enough ? and warns: “There are two kinds of businesses: the quick and the dead”. Living life at the SPEED of Trust is the career critical skill of the new global economy. Take it on.

If not now—when?

“Aude aliquid dignum” (“Dare something worthy”)

Keep making waves,

For more information please visit: CoveyLink – Leadership and Keynote Speaking

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One Response to “Why Not Live Life Like You Mean It?”

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