Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Making the Most of Your Limited Engagement

ARCHIVES
Sean Fine/HBO/AP

Over the weekend, I came across a video and an article that reminded me to be present and make the most of now because my time here on earth is what you might call a “limited engagement.” It’s sort of like a Broadway show with a limited run.

Of course, that’s true for all of us. Seventy, 80 or even 90 years of life sounds like a long time until you consider it in the greater scheme of things. Someone once described to me where any of us fit into the span of time with a compelling visual metaphor. Imagine that you’re in a large room that has a thick metal cable extending from end to end. The cable is so long that it actually enters the room through a hole in one wall and exits the room though a hole in the wall on the other end of the room. When you step outside the room to take a look at the cable, you lose sight of either end of it on the opposite horizons. You step back inside the room and make a nick on the cable with a screwdriver. That nick represents your life on earth. The cable represents time since the universe began.

Like I said, the time any of us have here is a limited engagement only. The question is “What do you want to do with it?” For Sam Berns, who recently passed away at age 17 from a rare condition called progeria, the answer was, among other things, realizing the dream of playing snare drum in his high school’s marching band. Paul Kalanthini, a 36-year-old neurosurgeon who wrote in the New York Times about dealing with his unexpected diagnosis of lung cancer, is grappling with the question every day.

None of us really have any idea on just how long our limited engagement is going to play. Here’s some advice from Sam and Paul on making the most of it:

In a TEDx talk that he gave just two months before he passed away, Sam offered his three-point philosophy for living a happy life:

  1. I’m OK with what I ultimately can’t do, because there’s so much I can do
  2. Surround yourself with people you want to be around
  3. Keep moving forward

Sam also offered a bonus fourth point about living a happy life but you’ll have to watch his TEDx talk if you want to know what it is.

In Paul’s column, he talked about living with the uncertainty of exactly when his cancer will end his life. After several months of reflection, he is inspired each day by this quote from Samuel Beckett, “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”

What’s your philosophy on making the most of this limited engagement? What’s one thing you’ll do this week to make the most of it?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.