Tag Archives: quote

Knowing You’ll Die Brings You Alive

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

As a kid, I was scared about death. At night before sleep, lying in bed, I’d wonder what it was like. Would it hurt? The concept of “gone.” It didn’t seem right.
knowing you will die


I was also obsessed with the question, “Would I come back?” If I did, how would I know it was me? I had to ask my dad, Chubby.

One night after dinner Dad was practicing on his new Wurlitzer organ. (Play by number. Do they still have that?) I snuggled up to his side.

“Dad,” I said. “I’m afraid to die.”

He stopped, took his hands off the keyboard, turned with a smile, looked me square in the eye, and replied,

“Greg, knowing you’ll die brings you alive.”

I didn’t get this… Chubby went on:

“You have a tough math test tomorrow, right?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Well,” Dad said. “If you could put that test off for a week, would you?”
“Sure,”I answered.
“How about a year?” he said.
“Fantastic.” I replied.
Chubby’s eye’s lit up! His hands flew in the air.
“That’s the point,” he said. “Without deadlines, people put off what they know they should do. Then they look back with regret on a life that was less than it could have been.”

I had never thought about that. Death as a motivator for life?

Dad continued, “Most people are so afraid of dying they won’t let themselves think about it, they won’t accept it.”

Chubby said, “It’s silly to ignore what you know to be true. People should think more often about how quickly life will pass. It should be their #1 daily motivator. It should create a LIVE BIG mindset.”

BIG. BIG. BIG. Dad kept stressing “BIG” as he threw his hands high in the air.

He continued, “Too many people look back and wish darn well they had gone for improbable goals, taken more risks, overcome fear and lived BIG every day.”

“Instead,” Dad explained, “They ignore the inevitable. They live each day like life never ends. Then they get old, look back, and ask, ‘Where did it go?’

I really got it then. I understood. Chubby wasn’t really talking about dying.

He wanted me to accept the reality of death as the motivation to not waste a minute, put aside fear, LIVE BIG every day and have a go-for-it life.

That was over 50 years ago. As I look back, do I have any regrets? You bet… The days I slept in.

knowing you will die


The Green Run

“Fortune favors the brave.”

—Terence, Phormio 161 B.C.

The following story was contributed by Kelly Simmons.

go for it

Kelly and her dad

I was six years old.

I stood atop the mountain, looking down at the treacherous descent that lay before me. I wasn’t ready for this. Why had I agreed to such a perilous fate?

It was Dad’s fault. He was to blame! I was perfectly content inching my way down the bunny hill at snail speed.

But now, I stared down the barrel of a green run. Terror took hold as I watched my older sister, Kristen, zip down the slope.

“C’mon Kelly,” Dad urged, coaxing me out of my momentary paralysis.

It “Runs” in the Family

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

—Oprah Winfrey

Today’s story is contributed by Sarah Mitchell.

One of the greatest lessons Dad ever taught me — it’s never too late to pursue a new passion.

never too old

Sarah, the youngest, sitting right in front of her dad.

He was 40 years old. Out of shape. He started running, a little bit each day. Every day, he ran a little farther. Eventually, it became a six-mile a day habit, and something that gave new passion to his life.

And it “runs” in the family, literally — Dad took my sister and me with him to his weekend races, where he almost always picked up a trophy for being the fastest in his age bracket. My sister and I caught the bug and have been ritual runners ever since. As I move into my own fourth decade, I find myself pursuing new passions very naturally, like surfing and aerial arts (think trapeze).

Better, Faster, Cheaper

“You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.”

—Oprah Winfrey

Today’s story is about Air Jordans and Brian Hague.

better, faster, cheaper

The Hague brothers, Corey, Casey, and Brian (l to r)

Over time and after a few missteps, we tend to learn the inescapable trade-off between better, faster, and cheaper. It’s a great lesson to share with our daughters and sons.

When my son Brian was seven, he asked Santa for a pair of basketball shoes. These weren’t just any basketball shoes. These were the latest, coolest, most talked about shoes on the planet.

The year was 1985. Nike had just released the “Air Jordan,” named for the Chicago Bulls’ draft pick and superstar, Michael Jordan. At the time, these were the most expensive basketball shoes on the market.

The Dog Biscuit

“Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often.”

—Mark Twain

Today’s story is contributed by Larry Winget.

your word

Larry, Tyler & Patrick, quite a few years after woofing the dog biscuit

I was walking the dogs, and my kids. Tyler was ten, Patrick was six. We played our traditional game, “How much?” That is, how much money would it take for one of us to eat a worm, or jump into a pool of manure, or lick a dead rat. Grossed out? Of course, so were we. That was the point…and we loved it.

“How much to eat a dog biscuit?” I proposed, pulling a dog treat from my pocket. Tyler’s reply was immediate, “I will if you will, Dad!”

I popped that dog biscuit into my mouth without hesitation! The boys were shocked; the dogs stared in wonder as I chewed up their bacon liver treat.

The Problem With Privilege

“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful.
Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

―John Wooden

Today’s story is about Johnny Manziel.

There is tension in Texas. In a state where football is religion, and star quarterbacks revered, the hot topic is 20-year-old Jonathan Manziel, aka “Johnny Football.”

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel accepting the Heisman Trophy, 2012

Will he lead another record-breaking season for Texas A&M? Or will his off-field missteps lead to a major disappointment for thousands of Aggies?

Last year, Johnny became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. He is one of five quarterbacks (and the only freshman) in NCAA history to pass for 3,000, and run for 1,000 yards, in a single season.

The problem? One day, he is the iconic football hero. The next, he is arrested in an altercation supposedly involving racial slurs and a fake drivers license. Recently, it’s alleged he accepted money for signing autographs. That could make him ineligible to play.

Driving Miss Janie

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”

—Ray Kroc

This story is contributed by Jane Howze.

My father, a banker, taught me the value of client relationships.

customer relations

Jane (far right) and her father (behind)

One of his customers ran a filling station on the other side of town. I remember every Saturday as a child, driving across town with my dad to get gas from this customer of his. We probably burned up half a tank of gas to go get gas so we could give his customer the business. My dad said his customers deserved nothing less.

Dad not only taught me the value of taking care of your customers, he also taught me the value in taking care of my finances. How serious was he about this? He would almost make the postman wait for him to write checks for the bills he received that day!