My first reaction to this quote was that it is a funny quote from an executive who is venting upon being fired from a job she loved. But then it got me thinking. This is so true in life. Everyone we interact with has a date stamped on our ass that we don’t see it or are delusional in thinking that it even exists. But we all know that if someone wants us out, there is not much we can do about it.
Often when we are caught blindsided, we are devastated and ask ourselves how could this happen to us? How did we not know about it coming? Were there hints that we missed? How are we going to recover from this?
So what are we going to do about it?
I guess you can try to figure out the date but that will soon prove to be frustrating as it will be time consuming, futile and unproductive. You could end up becoming paranoid and alienate people quickly, or, even worse, end up requiring professional help if you fall into a deep depression.
To avoid future disappointments on not knowing the date stamped on our ass is to make a determination to not care about the date and live like that date is today. If it is today then you guessed it right and will not be disappointed and can move on. If it is not, then you survived and lived to fight and face tomorrow.
Seth Godin, a famous marketer, author and blogger) calls this "anticipation vs. anxiety" in his blog on November 29, 2012. He says that with anticipation you will "double down on the things that will delight and push yourself even harder to be bold and to create your version of art." Whereas with anxiety you will be "insuring against disaster and most of all, building deniability into everything you do." Anticipation gets you out of the bed early each morning, while anxiety gets you to work in a bad mood.
We all agree that it is much better to live with anticipation. The best way to deal with this as we commonly hear this advice is to plan for the future and live for today. You plan for your future without your current job, so you are not hurt if you do happen to lose your job today. You build up your sales pipeline, so you can still meet your quota if you lose the deal you are working on; you start treating your loved ones with respect and love, so you have no regrets if the relationship does not work out;; you start eating well and exercising so if you get sick you can't blame it on your laziness and careless diet; or, worse, you take care of your finances, so if you happen to die today you have taken care of your loved ones as best as you possibly could.
The date stamp that no one should ever have to deal with is death. People naturally fear death though we know that it is inevitable and there is not much one can do about it. However, for some they use death as a great motivator for success.
In Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals,” you find out that Abraham Lincoln fell into a deep depression when he found out that his best friend Joshua Speed was moving, the breakup of his engagement to Mary Todd and lack of political success that hurt his reputation. This just devastated Abraham Lincoln to the point his friend thought he was certainly going to die if he did not get out of the blue funk that he was in.
So what saved him?
Twenty years later, after Lincoln signed the Emancipation of Proclamation, he reminded Joshua Speed that he had said to him when he was in depression that :he "had done nothing to make any human being remember that he had lived." Lincoln now felt that he was leaving something noteworthy behind when he said to him that "I believe that in this measure . . . my fondest hopes will be realized."
Steve Jobs also used death as a way to motivate him to innovate. He once said that “remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose... remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
I will leave you with this quote from a scene in the movie “Unforgiven” by Clint Eastwood that captures the point well in that we all have a date stamped on our asses:
The Schofield Kid: [after killing a man for the first time] It don't seem real... how he ain't gonna never breathe again, ever... how he's dead. And the other one too. All on account of pulling a trigger.
Will Munny: It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.
The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming.
Will Munny: We all got it coming, kid.
Jay Oza is a founder and principal innovation development consultant at 5ToolGroup, a company that specializes in helping startups and established firms bring innovation to market within 90 days through our unique 5Tool Methodology that integrates sales, marketing, partnerships, customer development and agile/lean methodology to enable frugal or ("Jugaad") innovation. We believe that to succeed today, you have to continuously look for ways to do lot more with lot less. This is the only way to win today!