What I Should Have Said (Cancer Diagnosis)

I walked into the meeting room and greeted the man across the table.

He replied, “One day closer to retirement!”

I looked surprised and inquired as to the date of the impending retirement.

“Only six years!” came the response.

“Six years?,” I asked. “That’s time for at least two cancer diagnoses!”

Here’s what I should have said.

Maybe it’s our career field. Maybe it’s just me. But the ever present reports of death, amputations, and illnesses (on and off the job) create a sense of urgency in my life. The next day is not promised, let alone the next six or ten years.

Great lives are made up of great days. Days where you make an impact. Days where you feel joy, days where you serve, days that you take action on your dreams. Great lives aren’t made up of deferred happiness, deferred action, deferred joy, deferred youth, or even slightly larger pensions.

If you stay at your job for the pension alone, you will die with regret.

If you stay for the pension and lie to yourself that you’re doing the job for a bigger cause (service, camaraderie, etc.)…and you still tell people on a weekly basis that you’re that much closer to retirement…you’re only fooling yourself.

On your deathbed, what would you give for 6 years in your 50s? How much of that pension would you give back for those 2,190 days of a healthy mind and body?

If I’m wrong, if I totally took the remark out of context, then may those six years instead be filled with passionate initiative, inspiring leadership, and really become something you’re proud to have done.

Which will he choose? Which will you?

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