Recently I came across a post online talking about Bonnie Ware’s book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. I can’t speak to the quality of the book as I have not yet read it, but the blog post on the five regrets was gripping.
She had worked for many years in palliative care where she was with people in their last three to twelve weeks of their lives. She spent much of her time talking with them and one subject that came up often was their regrets. Over time she noticed there were five regrets that were the most common:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
So as a leader, how do these apply to you and those you lead? Let’s look at that question by question:
1. Are you living a life that is authentic? Do you know your calling in life and are you living accordingly? Or are you living a life full of the “fear of man” only trying to curry the favor or approval of others? Are you helping those you lead to discover their calling and helping them to live accordingly? What kind of environment are you building – one that encourages people to grow or one that demands that they please you?
2. Do you derive your sense of value from your work? Does your work take priority over your relationship with God, your spouse, your children, and your friends? How about those you lead? Have you created a “family friendly” environment or do you try to wring every last minute you can from those you lead?
3. Are you more concerned with keeping the peace or image management so that you don’t express yourself fully? Are you too busy being nice (maintaining harmony at the expense of truth) or are you more concerned with kindness (telling people what they need to know – with the right motivation)? How about your team? Do you make it safe for them to be fully honest? Can people really talk to you or are they taking a risk expressing themselves to you?
4. Are you making friends, especially old friends, a priority? Are you allowing a crowded calendar (which is your choice) to crowd out important friendships? We need friends – people that are speaking into our lives and that really know us deeply.
5. Are you making the choice to be happy? It is a choice you know. As has often been said, we most often don’t control our circumstances, but we can choose how we react to hose circumstances. Are you choosing to be joyful;? Are you teaching those you lead how to choose joyfulness? Remember, your mindset is your choice.
Hopefully this has been of some help to you and maybe started you thinking about what is really important in life. I hope that you, and me, start living our lives in a way that reflect day-o-day what is really important.
Would it not be a shame to get to the end of our lives and our nurse hear is saying these same things?
Have a blessed Spring day!