I recently celebrated one of those birthdays that get you thinking. While I was thinking about this birthday, I recalled a story I heard several years ago about a gentleman that called into a radio station one Saturday morning to give some advice to a younger audience that was listening to this talk show. The callers that morning seemed so caught up with careers, money, business, and overall just worries of life, that this gentleman felt compelled to call in.
This is a short recap of that story:
“Thanks for taking my call this Saturday morning. You see, when I turned 55 it stopped me in my tracks. I sat outside that cool fall morning and thought back over my life. I realized how caught up in the busyness of life and the struggle to get ahead at work. I thought back over how much I had missed at home and how I had been so focused on things that now seemed so trivial. I had worked so hard during the week and spent many weekends just absorbed in my own interests, that I had little focus on family or friends/people in general. I vowed that day to no longer waste time or let a day get away from me that wouldn’t be impactful. I figured that most people on average lived to be 75 years old. 20 years with 52 Saturdays a year would mean I had roughly 1040 Saturdays left to live. I got a glass jar and filled it with 1040 marbles. Each Saturday, I would take one marble out as a reminder to make the most of the day/week. That visual reminder has been a reminder for me all these years to make each day/week count. You see, today I took that last marble out. Yes, I turned 75 today. My jar is now empty. I don’t know how many Saturday’s I have left, but I assure you that each week will count for something. I’ll sign off now and just encourage all those listening to make each day count.”
Funny how I recall that story. You see, I turned 55 just recently. I don’t know how many Saturday’s I have left, but I recently got me a jar too. Rather than fill it up and take marbles out each week, I am going to add one each week if I feel like the prior week was impactful. Impactful defined as a meaningful interaction with someone else; that I either intentionally or in the moment truly focused on someone else and had a meaningful interaction with them. Yes, I will be the judge of my own week, but every time I look at that jar, it will be a reminder to make the day count and to make the week count.
If I live long enough to need a bigger jar, great. Either way, I want to see that jar fill up with marbles with one being added each week; representing a meaningful, impactful week benefiting someone else.
I don’t know if this note is a leadership lesson or just a life lesson, but leaders being more focused on others seems to be pretty impactful to me. Give it some thought and regardless of your age, start making that impact today.
I will have that jar with marbles on my desk as a reminder for all of us.