When I was growing up, my father said something to me I will never forget, "Son, when you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die the world cries while you rejoice".
We live in an age when we have forgotten what life is all about. We can easily put a person on the Moon, but we have trouble walking across the street to meet a new neighbour. We can fire a missile across the world with pinpoint accuracy, but we have trouble keeping a date with our children to go to the library. We have e-mail, fax machines and digital phones so that we can stay connected and yet we live in a time where human beings have never been less connected. We have lost touch with our humanity. We have lost sight of the things that matter the most.
And so, I respectfully ask you, Who will cry when you die? How many lives will you have touch while you have the privilege to walk this planet? What impact will your life have on the generations that follow you? And what legacy will you leave behind after you have taken your last breath?
One of the lessons I have learned in my own life is that if you don't act on life, life has a habit of acting on you. The days slip into weeks, the weeks slip into months and the months slip into years. Pretty soon it's all over and you are left with nothing more than a heart filled with regret over a life half lived. George Bernard Shaw was asked on his deathbed, "What would you do if you could live your life over again?" He reflected, then replied with a deep sigh: "I'd like to be the person I could have been but never was."
As a professional speaker, I spend much of my work life delivering keynote addresses at conferences across North America, flying from city to city, sharing my insights on leadership in business and in life with many different people. Though they all come from diverse walks of life, their questions invariably centre on the same things these days: How can I find greater meaning in my life? How can I make a lasting contribution through my work? And How can I simplify so that I can enjoy the journey of life before it is too late?
My answer always begins the same way: Find your calling. I believe we all have special talents that are just waiting to be engaged in a worthy pursuit. We are all here for some unique purpose, some noble objective that will allow us to manifest our highest human potential while we, at the same time, add value to the lives around us. Finding your calling doesn't mean you must leave the job you now have. It simply means you need to bring more of yourself into your work and focus on the things you do best. It means you have to stop waiting for other people to make the changes you desire and, as Mahatma Ghandi noted: "Be the change that you wish to see most in your world". And once you do, your life will change.
Excerpted from Robin Sharma's book "Who Will Cry When You Die"