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Fifteen Minutes To Live #trust30

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lately I have become acutely aware of my mortality. Not that anyone around me has died…well, my cat passed away last year, and yes, I grieved.

Until recently I thought that everything was possible, that I had all the time in the world to build what I wanted to build. But then I hit a wall.

I didn’t see the wall coming, although in hindsight it was obvious. All of a sudden I started asking myself what have I really created in the last fifteen years since I first set out on my entrepreneurial adventure. I don’t have much to show for it materially, compared to my brothers who held fast to their military career paths and who now enjoy fat incomes and job security as managers in some government office.

Fifteen years seems so long, but as I look back, it went so fast. What is left to show for it?

Then I realize that what I have built is so intangible that our economic system has no way to measure it. Helping people on three continents name their mission, vision and passion. Inspiring people to be bold, audacious and authentic. Showing people that there is a structured way to build a livelihood based on one’s passion, that there is also art to this science. Bringing people together so they can join as business partners or even as life partners.

The asset I have built is much more than bricks and mortar or gold and silver. It is hope, purpose and passion.

But there is no line for this asset on a tax return.

What I have learnt in the past fifteen years-which-seem-like-minutes is that success is not about stuff nor is it about status. Success is creating an experience of life that expresses one’s full potential.

For a minute, I let myself get distracted from the real meaning of life. I became overwhelmed by the enormity of the mission, and it scared me shitless.

Life is too short to have it be just about accumulating stuff. We are not put on this Earth to be economic animals. There is no such thing as Homo economicus. We are put on this Earth to experience one tiny sliver of passion. Not just to think or to do, but to love. Homo amoris.

I remember the first time I led a team-building workshop in Nova Scotia back in 1999. As the last participant left, I sat quietly in the living-room of the B&B we had reserved for the weekend, soaking up the love that was created in that room, and smiling to myself as I thought: “Lord, you can take me now, my work is done.”

Little did I realize it was just the beginning…

For more information

This post is part of a series inspired by The Domino Project’s #Trust30 Writing Challenge. Each day during the month of June 2011, we receive a thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance”, to use as a writing prompt. For more information about the #Trust30 Writing Challenge, see today’s prompt:

http://ralphwaldoemerson.me/gwen-bell

Image credit: Alex Lomix (Dalo_Pix2) on Flickr
Direct link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/55432818@N02/5500963965/in/photostream/
Used under Creative Commons 2.0 licence

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