The greatest gifts...
In a bowl to the left as I type is a pen: 0.38 ultra fine, pink ink - purchased and hand-carried home from Japan. This particular pen doesn’t write anymore; it’s 10 years old and the ink has dried up. The pen was a gift from a woman who started as my manager in the early parts of my corporate career and became my friend.
Today is the anniversary of her death.
I remember the day Ayako came to me and told me they found a lump in her throat, that it was cancer, and that she had a less than 5% chance of survival. We were in her cube at the office. I was sitting in her “guest” chair; she was leaning against a pillow decorated in aloha-style Hawaiian fabric. She said is so calmly, I was calm hearing it.
She was in her 40s. It was November.
There are a million memories I have of Ayako that I could share, but just two relate to the reason I’m writing about her. In one of our early coaching conversations she told me that I was like a rocket ship with all engines on full-blast. I was blazing so fast in a forward motion that I wasn’t slowing for anything in my path and I wasn’t looking at anything around me.
She encouraged me to slow down; look at the scenery.
She said there were things to learn in the periphery.
The second piece of advice came from a lunch date 6-months later. This time, she told me about the simple joy of walking her dogs, about doing the smallest, most “mundane” tasks and relishing them. At the time, I didn’t realize that it was our goodbye lunch and these words were her parting gift to me.
As I sit at the two-month mark of my departure from corporate and on a mission to build this business, I’m frustrated with how slow it feels. Now, more than ever I want the high of accomplishment; so speed sounds enticing. The problem is, for the first time in my life, because my destination isn't defined by someone else, I don't know exactly where I'm going.
Here’s the thing I’m learning about taking the scenic route: you learn a massive amount when you are not traveling in a straight line. I’m now taking one day at a time, looking out all windows and learning everything I can. I'm also enjoying the little things in life; my daughters giggling, walking the dog, stopping to smell the flowers.
My current pace makes sure I'm not missing something.
The passing scenery is the landscape of my future and I want to stay open to all possibilities. I may not understand how this eduction will all connect together but, I have no doubt that it will.
I have many gifts from Ayako around my house. I keep these things visible to remind me of my her greatest gifts to me; the advice to slow down, stay fully open and savor the simplicity of this one, beautiful life.
There’s something we all get from someone when their moment in our lifetime is brief. We get a powerful reminder of the gifts they gave us and a chance to live a life that would make them proud.
Take Action: Take two minutes and make a list of some of the best advice you’ve ever received. Then write down the names of at least two people who could use that advice and send it along.
The benefit? Advice is a gift. Receiving it is powerful and giving it is a profound way to help shape and change someone’s life; even if that message doesn’t resonate for years to come. The important point is to give the gift; pass it on.