How Can Death Be a Motivator?

There is one certainty in life: We will die. Death can seem like a taboo topic in our culture, but it is the one inevitability for everyone. When my clients and I first begin working together, one of the exercises I ask them to do is write their own obituary. I think it is important for all of us to look at our lives from the death perspective. This process helps us see what we want and need to change for truly satisfying lives. This doesnʼt mean we can expect to be happy all the time. But we can—and should—live in such a way that we feel our lives are meaningful and fulfilling.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and Pixar, died last Wednesday. The impact has been great on all of us. Here was a man who did not complete college, yet will be remembered as one of the most extraordinary innovators of our time. His legacy of products touches billions of people. But here is what stands out most for me when I think of him: He BELIEVED he could change technology to be both beautiful and user- friendly. He succeeded because he believed in himself.

Yes, his success also came from his skills and hard work, but more importantly it came from his mindset. He had a big vision and he made it happen. He thought outside the box and encouraged others to do the same. He followed his passions; he followed his heart.

I love being a coach because I believe each of us is born with a life purpose, and the only thing that gets in the way of our fulfilling that purpose is ourselves. Perhaps we are reluctant to acknowledge or discover our hidden talents and interests. Steve Jobs always had a great mind for technology, but Apple did not become one of the most profitable companies of all time until he tapped into his marketing genius too. He had to “think different.”

So what if you knew when you were going to die, what would you change? How can the certainty of death propel you into creating your life with primal satisfaction? What is one thing you could do today—one thing—that would move you closer to your bigger life vision?

Steve Jobs was one in a million. The truth is, however, many of us are gifted with talents and skills the world needs now more than ever, but we often let our thinking get in the way of our dreams. What would you do differently if you were looking at life the way Steve Jobs did?

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
– Steve Jobs –