It's our micro-ambition that counts
School-leaver, Jake Bailey, has some thoughts to share about what really matters...
What is it with male school captains this year? A few months ago, we were privileged to Australian watch college captain Xavier Eales' incredibly moving speech about depression.
Now, a video is circulating of a speech delivered by senior monitor of New Zealand's Christchurch Boys' High School, Jake Bailey, a week after his diagnosis with aggressive cancer. He'd written his final address prior to being told he had weeks to live. Doctors told him he wouldn't be present at the ceremony.
Not only was he present. He was inspirational. And acutely sensible.
"I wrote a speech, and a week before I was due to deliver this speech tonight they said, 'You've got cancer'," he began. "They said, if you don't get any treatment within the next three weeks you're going to die. Then they told me I wouldn't be here tonight to deliver this speech."
"None of us get out of life alive, so be gallant, be great, be gracious, and be grateful for the opportunities you have."
"The future is truly in our hands. Forget about having long-term dreams. Let's be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals. Micro-ambitious. Work with pride on what is in front of us. We don't know where we might end up. Or when it might end up."
Be micro-ambitious, passionately dedicated to short-term goals...
That concept really struck me. I've never been a long-term planner. In fact, I've never been a planner at all. I'm sure it frustrates my business partner in the My 15 Minutes program, Audrey Thomas, that I can barely look beyond what feels right to do today...
Australian band, 5 Seconds of Summer recently released an album called "Sounds Good, Feels Good". That's pretty much how I operate most of the time. And because of that, some amazing things have unfolded—business programs, books, spontaneous day trips... passionate pursuit of short-term goals...we never know when it might end up...
I'm not saying 'don't do 5-year plans'. Lots of people thrive on them.
It's just that Jake's right. We have no idea what's around the corner. No idea of the obstacles, or the opportunities, that are on our near-future horizon.
Micro-ambition—working with pride with what is right in front of us—can add up to big progress over time, but his point is that these achievements can also be an end in themselves. If we start to value our small achievements as importantly as the big, long-worked-for ones, how much more pleasurable would our lives be? How much more grateful might we feel for the opportunities we have not in two years, or five or ten years, but this week. Today.
Don't dismiss as 'nothing special' the fact that you make it out for a walk on Tuesday. Don't dismiss that you nail a difficult email on Thursday or bake a really cool birthday cake on Saturday.
These things, all of them, are what add up to a pretty special life, later on. A life lived now. Not years away, in the land of "I'll be happy when..."