Six months to live. I knew exactly what to do.
By October 29, 2021– Published on
I’ve read the same business and development books as most people. I am familiar with all the cliches. There is one topic however, that is often misrepresented - Values.
When we look at a company's (or persons) core values, we often see a list of tactical and aspirational behaviours - "Work Hard and Do the Right Thing", or "Trust and Accountability". These are great principals to live by - but they miss the mark on values.
Our values are what we hold on to, if everything else is taken away.
I want to share the best core values exercise I have ever done.
I have a coach. Her name is Heather. We have worked together for five years. I describe her as a performance coach, but what she really is, is a second me. A second me that never forgets when I say I will do something, and holds me accountable.
We were having a strategy session in a boardroom a few years ago. On all of the walls, she had taped large sheets of poster-board. She handed me a felt marker and asked me for one of my favourite songs.
When she hit play on the bluetooth speaker, she said, "Write down every single thing you want to accomplish in your life. Whatever comes to mind, don’t hesitate, put it on the wall."
The song was four minutes long. I ended up with 40 items. It was a stream of consciousness - every life's desire that popped into my head. There were goals with my family, with my bank account, with business, with travel, personal skills and more.
When the song stopped, I put down the pen. We stood back and admired the variety of ambitions, from “Create 1 million acres of protected wilderness habitat”, to “Buy a black Ferrari”, and everything in the middle.
Then, she asked me to pick a new song and handed me a different coloured marker. This time, she said, "Now you can only circle three items. And you've just found out you have six months to live."
I picked up the pen and looked at the board. I had four minutes to decide how I would spend the last six months of my life. I stared at all of my life’s goals, from the deep and meaningful, to the strange and superficial.
With the perspective that I would shortly say goodbye to everyone and everything that I’ve known, I revisited the list. What did I really need to do with my life?
This part was hard. But when the song was over, the three most important things I could do with my life were circled in red.
Neither of us said anything. We just looked at the board. It was a polarizing moment.
After a minute, she picked up a new pen and told me to pick three more.
After that, the same process one last time. Three more items.
From my list of 40 we had narrowed down the nine most important things I could do with my life and segmented them into three stages of importance.
There were uncanny relationships between the items I had circled. Two distinct themes had emerged:
1. My People
At the end of my time, when everything is stripped away, that is what I will value. My People and Adventure.
Why do I share this story?
Because when you are clear on your core values, big decisions become easier. My values are a litmus test for any opportunities that I consider:
Does this opportunity help me provide for my people?
Will this be an adventure?
If it doesn’t tick either box, it is a simple no.
In the boardroom with Heather, I was faced with what I truly care about. It sharpened my clarity and focus. Of course, I still get distracted. But these values help my awareness of what is and what is not a distraction, getting me back on track faster than if I didn’t have them.
I bring this up because over the last 9 months I have been faced with a big decision.
My email subscribers have doubled in the last year, which means many of you may not know that prior to COVID19, I ran a series of investment conferences across North America. I shut this business down in March of 2020, as the world went into lockdown. I was never sure if I would return to the event business when the world opened up again. I love what I do now, using my YouTube Channel and Podcast to host the most important conversations that the world needs to hear.
If I were to build a live event again, it would need to align with my core values.
But how could building an event be the adventure of a lifetime? What would an event like that look like?
It would need to give me the opportunity to sit down face to face, live on stage, with some of the worlds deepest and most controversial thinkers. I would need a lineup of guests with power and influence - individuals who have changed the world and could share their stories.
I'd need to talk about wealth creation and the future of capitalism, but it couldn't be just anyone, I would need to get the best selling financial author of all time.
I'd need to talk about the future of money, currency and fiscal policy - but it couldn't be some media pundit, I would need an insider who had developed and implemented strategies inside the United States Federal Reserve.
And I would definitely need some politicians, but not ministers or advisors, I would need Prime Ministers and Presidents.
And so I did it.
In January of 2022, I am building an event that will set the world on fire. It has been and will be the adventure of a lifetime. It is the most ambitious project I have ever tackled. I am equally terrified and excited.
Next week I will drop the formal announcement and open up tickets for sale.
I can’t wait.