Last week I had the pleasure of attending a very unusual webinar with a gentleman called Mike Seddon. Mike is an entrepreneur whose first business selling software morphed into a specialist online service helping businesses to market themselves using Google Adwords. I had never heard of Mike before, but I was introduced to him by Ian Brodie, a Marketing Strategist for whom I have a great deal of respect.
When I started writing this to you, I tried to find the email Ian had sent to me about this “Last Webinar” to let you know what made me decide to register. And this search prompted a very real reminder of the importance of “carpe diem” as we never know what tomorrow holds. As I searched for the email, the name “Mike Seddon” came up as recently as 20th May, when Ian had interviewed him for his podcast.
Less than 2 months later, the same man was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told he had just a few weeks to live.
Sobering stuff, isn’t it? But before you delete this email or dismiss it as depressing, please read on…
Hearing news like this is a reminder of how precious each day is and the importance of living our lives fully. I’m no expert on Buddhism, but I have done a little reading around Buddha’s teaching, attended a couple of workshops at the local Buddhist centre and one of the Buddhist philosophies that is always at the top of my mind is that, in order to fully live, we have to first accept that we will die. Forgive me if it’s not quite right, but that’s the gist of it.
Last week, I “met” this very courageous man for the first time on his “Last Webinar”. Here was a man who was staring his mortality straight in the face, yet he chose to spend one of those precious hours doing something positive for his fellow human beings, even at this most frightening of times.
I listened to Mike Seddon speak with tears in my eyes. This was a webinar presented by a man who had to choke back his own tears at the thought of leaving his wife behind. It was a webinar presented by a man who apologised that he would seem weepy as he adjusted his morphine levels. Occasionally, he winced with pain as he spoke. You’d have to be pretty hardened not to be touched by his courage.
However, this week’s post is about how we can live full out, It’s not about being negative – in fact, far from it! There is certainly realism, but also optimism, positive reflection and courage.
Very simply, Mike Seddon, a man with weeks to live, wants you to do this: Schedule time out of your busy life to spend a day reflecting on your life in a way that is both aspirational, positive AND eminently practical.
His friend coined a name for the day – He called it a Seddon Day.
Mike asked each of us to schedule a “Seddon Day” NOW. He suggested we take ourselves off somewhere nice for the day, where we could reflect on his 5 questions deeply.
Here are Mike’s questions for you to ponder on your “Seddon Day”. The questions are his with some of my own interpretation thrown in:
1. What is my “Why” and am I living it?
This isn’t just about your family. What is YOUR personal “why” in life? What’s your mission? Why were you put on this earth? What is your greatest gift? What legacy do you want to leave behind? And are you living that “why” right now? If not, what
2. What does success look like?
Build your life and your career/business according tot he value you bring to others and expect to be paid for the value you bring.
3. Am I enjoying the journey?
There is only this moment – right now. You’ve heard me talk about this a lot too. It’s pointless having future goals if you have to make yourself utterly miserable in order to achieve them. I believe in hard work, dedication and pushing yourself, but you won’t do any of that if you’re not working hard, being dedicated and pushhing yourself on a path that you love.
If you’re not enjoying the journey, then please use your Seddon Day to brainstorm what you can and what you WILL do to change direction! Think you can’t? Allow me to remind you that it’s later than you think and time is ticking away. This might help you to get more creative
1. Am I hanging out with the right people?
Mike cautioned women in particular at this point about not taking as gospel the “success stories” we observe superficially in other women. He reminded us that “little people talk about other people and big people talk about ideas”. So hang out with people who love you, who share your values and who don’t gossip. There is so much richness in this big wide World of ours, so much to learn. Why would you impoverish yourself intellectually by spending your life bitching about others? Expand your mind and expand your social circle to one that brings you joy. For me, it’s about hang out with people who you respect and love, who will push you to stretch further and achieve your potential, who don’t let you take yourself or life too seriously and who make you lark around like a big kid!
2. What would happen to my loved ones if I was no longer around?
I told you the questions included practical and this last question is immensely practical. If you were to be run over by the proverbial bus tomorrow, would your family struggle to access your bank accounts? Would they know which life assurance policy you had taken out? Would they know where to look? Passwords?
Mike also asked – Have you created any passive income streams that can continue to provide income to your family even after you’re gone? His audience on the webinar was primarily online business owners, so you might think this doesn’t apply to you. But the fact is, you CAN create a “passive income” business, even if you are employed.
This last Seddon question will take some time to answer and implement, as you’ll have to create a few procedures. It’s all about getting your finances in order. It’s one of those things we all tend to avoid. Let’s face it, it’s the sort of thing you can put off for a lifetime (pardon the black humour pun!)
But look at it this way, if you were really unwell, would you want to be spending your last days calling financial institutions trying to work through their bureaucracy and inefficiency? I know from Mike’s Facebook timeline that he IS having to do this. And I have no qualms about a name and shame here – it’s the Halifax – Boo!
For some people, this will be a post to avoid. I don’t think there are many people out there who are comfortable talking about death. Some people may ignore it. Others may judge it as “depressing”. Good luck to them!
But if you’ve got this far, then congratulations – I believe you are open-minded, curious and determined to live your life full out. So I’ll leave you with this, one of my favourite quotes about the big “D” word! It has been attributed to various people and as anonymous. The provenance is unimportant. The philosophy IS important….. Live every single moment of your amazing life! Live purposefully, fully and enjoy the ride!
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming — WOW— What a Ride!”
My “Seddon Day” is in my diary on Friday 21st August. Let’s get some accountability going here. When is yours? 🙂 I’d love to know if you’re moved to schedule your own Seddon Day. Let me know in the comments below!
If you want to watch Mike’s webinar, you can do here.
If you got something from this post and Mike’s questions, I know that the biggest thanks you can give him would be to help in raising money for the charity that is supporting him to die at home and with dignity – Shakespeare Hospice. The other night Mike posted on his timeline that he was frightened. The hospice didn’t have enough nurses to cover him and he was having problems with his syringe driver. He appealed to people to donate so others would not have to have this fear.
So please, if you could donate whatever you can to Mike’s Just Giving page, then that would be extremely kind of you. Don’t be worried if it’s just £1. If every person reading this donated £1 today, then Mike would meet his target of raising £6,000 for Shakespeare Hospice by the end of today.