Years ago, I recall the precise moment when I realized, very tangibly, the impermanence of life.
I sat on the couch, contemplating, dreaming, longing for my mother. She had died just weeks before of cancer. In that very typical, and yet not normal, passing moment, it hit me — I too will die. In that moment I was aware of my physical being; feeling my heart pound beneath my skin. My heart would someday stop.
It is so unconscious. I take it for granted. My body does all of these amazing things without me even being involved. My mind can’t control what the body already knows what to do and the immanent wisdom it already has. Funny that is probably why nature took that option away – it knew the monkey brain would go for controlling all of it, if it could. Imagine if you had to control when and how often you breathed or digested? We would find ways to mess with it for sure.
And yet we take for granted, every day, that our bodies will keep on keeping on, delivering for us, serving us. At that moment, feeling my own heart beat, I became acutely aware that they won’t and they aren’t even designed to do so.
Which then brings me to this moment, and applying this existential reflection to my work, I think about how we as leaders need to make time for reflection and not take for granted anything in our lives.
Not take for granted the talent and skill we have around us, the depth and breadth of relationships we have within our community, or even the ground we ourselves have covered with our work and our lives.
Every week, there are talented colleagues bringing their very best and yet, how often do we recognize that effort, or who they are and let them know how much we truly appreciate the gift they give of themselves, day-in and day-out.
Every few months or so, we can reflect back on work we have done in the past month that demonstrates a level of aptitude perhaps we couldn’t demonstrate before. Do we celebrate it, do we take stock and reflect on what that experience and knowledge now gives us greater access to?
Every day, we have an opportunity to invest in the relationships around us – those we work with and those in our personal life. Why not take the time to tell them how much you value who they are and how they contribute to your life and your work.
Yes life and mortality have much to teach us, if we are willing to listen. Certainly one of the lessons is we best not take anything for granted.
So how will you be intentional about not taking things for granted? Will you – appreciate health and care for your body? Or make it a practice to recognize colleagues? Or continue to invest in relationships–even those people you struggle with?
Or perhaps reflect on your accomplishments and what they give you greater access to …
Joanne Spalton, Senior Consultant