The following is my favorite passage from the book "The Last Arrow," by Edwin Raphael McManus. The book is an emotion read as McManus and he was on his way to completing the book was diagnosed with cancer. It is incredibly well written with the thesis of time and what we are doing with it. It's about giving life your best, until you've used that "last arrow."
Here a just a sampling of takeaways from this book:
When you come to the end of your days, you will not measure your life based on success and failures. All of those will eventually blur together into a single memory called “life.” What will give you solace is a life with nothing left undone. One that’s been lived with relentless ambition, a heart on fire, and with no regrets. On the other hand, what will haunt you until your final breath is who you could have been but never became and what you could have done but never did.
Time seduces us into believing that it is the one friend who will never run out on us, but the cruel truth is that it always does. It would not be unfair to say that time lies to us. It tricks us into believing that we can wait until tomorrow to do the things we should have done yesterday. And while I find an endless number of reasons why people leave things in life undone, I find one unifying characteristic of those who leave nothing for the next life: a sense of urgency.
Success is a tyrant that will enslave you just as quickly as failure. If you let success own you, you will find yourself trapped by your success and terrified by the possibility of failure. Success will lie to you and tell you that your future is just an extension of your past, when at its best, success is simply preparation for new challenges. Every day you will have to choose between living in the past, staying in the present, or creating a future. The great danger lies in that the easy path is to hold on to what you know, cling to what you have, and make the future an extension of the past. Though there is no way to stop time, you have to choose the future. Although you are grounded in the past, you must not be grounded by the past. And while tomorrow is coming regardless of what you do, the future comes because of what you do.
Greatness is a gift given to individuals by those who choose to surround them with their own greatness. Let me repeat myself: no great endeavor has ever been accomplished alone. Yet this realization does not diminish the greatness of the individuals we hold up as inspirations to us all. The fact that personal greatness is never achieved alone, the fact that personal greatness is always the sum total of the hard work and deep commitment of an untold number of people, does not in any way diminish the grandeur of an individual’s accomplishments. In fact, it elevates it. It’s much easier to do something yourself. It takes so much more work, it demands so much of yourself, to create an environment where highly talented, skilled, and intelligent people can work together for a common goal. If anything, this is the true genius behind all greatness. It is most certainly true when we are dealing with sustained greatness. What I’ve observed over the years is that all of us can have moments of greatness and glimpses of greatness, but what seems so unattainable is sustaining the level of commitment, resolve, and quality that achieves sustained greatness. That is why I am always fascinated by those who not only accomplish something extraordinary once but do it over and over again.
On Seizing Opportunity
Striking the last arrow is not only about seizing every opportunity; it is also about being the right person at the right moment. The moment requires action or even reaction. Those moments and actions are informed and fueled by who we are. The best way to ensure that you will seize every action or even reaction. Those moments and actions are informed and fueled by who we are. The best way to ensure that you will seize every opportunity is to be the best expression of who you are.