It’s been interesting watching the Twitter timeline since Steve Jobs passing. Watching Twitter blow up connected me to the event like water cooler discussions of the past. Yesteryear, when something like this happened, we would see it on TV and talk with our family. We would then talk about it the next day at work. Then, over the weekend, with friends. In the past, engaging in news like Steve’s passing was a longer event, playing out over many days rather than in minutes.
The speed of this engagement allowed his passing to affect me in a much deeper sense. I was inundated by links, video’s and websites celebrating his impact on society. Twitter, Facebook and the web allowed me to engulf myself in his legacy. And it was from this submersion I was reminded of the greatest lesson I got from Steve Jobs -get real.
Getting real is the lesson he taught me. It doesn’t have to be your lesson.
I define getting real as opening ourselves up to the truth. It is the practice of accepting what is, not what we want things to be. Being real is hard. We don’t like to accept our shortcomings, or situations that don’t work for us. It’s uncomfortable to accept reality at times. It’s easier to deny what the numbers are telling us. It’s easier to pretend we don’t see what is truly going on. It’s easier to defend bad behaviors than hold ourselves or others accountable. It’s easier to deny the truth when it hurts. It feels better. It feels safe, but it’s not. It’s hard to be real.
Chris Brogan had a great post today about how we are losing time in our lives. Chris is right, wasting time has a huge cost. As I read his post, I couldn’t help but ask, why do we waste so much time? Why do we check the phone every time it beeps even when we are siting with our loved ones? Why do we watch TV when we could be planning something big? Why don’t we say sorry first, and end the stalemate? Why don’t we make the extra sales call? Why don’t we read more books? Why — because those questions things require we confront reality, that we get real.
My lesson from Jobs stems from this quote.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Taking this quote in and dissecting it like I do most things, I realized living every day like it is your last is fruitless if we are unable to be real with ourselves. Accepting ourselves for who we are and the choices we make sets the course. When we don’t confront reality we end up defaulting. We make choices that don’t take us where we want to go, but rather send us in the opposite direction.
When we confront reality, we give ourselves the gift of accuracy and honesty. We see our life as it is, not as we’d like it to be. It is from this perspective we can then and only then successfully treat each and everyday like it is our last. Each decision is deliberate. Each choice is steeped in acceptance. We aren’t living in denial. We aren’t operating from false evidence appearing real (f.e.a.r.)
As long as we hide, deny, ignore and avoid, living everyday like it’s our last is impossible. The choices we makes when we hide, deny, ignore and avoid in the end aren’t real choices at all, they are reactions. Real choices can only be made when we get real.