If Life is this Short, What Do I Want to Do?

January 20, 2016
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Terri Maxwell

If Life is this Short, What Do I Want to Do?

Sometimes it takes a crisis—a relationship ending, a major health scare, a car accident—to wake us from the sleepwalk state in which we exist. Regardless of the challenges that are facing us, we rarely regret choosing to live our life on purpose.

On the morning of 9/11/01, I was drinking coffee and watching the NBC Today Show when the broadcast was interrupted for a video of the World Trade Center on fire; a gaping hole in the North Tower. Moments later the 2nd plane hit the South Tower.

Little did I know, but that moment was a turning point. As the day unfolded and unthinkable events occurred, I remember waves of fear pulsing through me. What did this mean? How could it be? Who could do such a thing?

By the end of the day, not yet sure how many international citizens had lost their lives, only one question remained; “If life is this short, what do I really want to do with my life?” The next morning, I still did not have an answer to that burning question.

Later that day (September 12), as I sat in a management meeting and listened to executives debate how to increase sales by taking advantage of this horrific crisis, I knew one thing for sure. If life is this short, I do not want to work for anyone, much less soul-less leaders. I resigned from my position that afternoon and accepted a 3-month severance to finish an acquisition/merger underway.

As I drove home that afternoon, just one day after the towers fell, I considered joining the military. Maybe I could make a difference that way. Serve. By Friday I had called all of the military braches only to learn that I was too old to enlist. Now what? If life is this short, what do I really want to do? I still didn’t know.

Sometimes it takes a crisis – a relationship ending, a major health scare, a car accident – to wake us from the sleepwalk state in which we exist. For me, that crisis moment was 9/11. Although I had no clue what to do, one thing was for certain, if life was this short, I wanted to make a difference.

2016 may very well be the most challenging year in human history. All signs are pointing to major economic challenges, devastating weather patterns, political unrest and ongoing war with terrorists who have no respect for human life. In spite of what could be a harsh reality, there is nothing to fear. Just ask the question: If life is this short, what do I want to do?

In the 15 years since 9/11, I can tell you this. It hasn’t been easy. I made lots of mistakes. I lost money chasing my dreams, and then gained it back 3-fold, only to invest it again in a bigger dream. I’ve struggled, cried, failed, and succeeded. And yet…not once, did I ever regret the choice to follow my dreams, live my purpose, to be led by my passions, and to learn how to be in the flow, co-creating with the divine.

Regardless of whatever challenges arise in 2016, let us make the choices:

  1. To follow a dream, regardless of where it takes you.
  2. To find hope where there is only fear.
  3. To extend love rather than spread hate.
  4. To encourage grace before criticism.
  5. To see what’s good, rather than what’s not.
  6. To find compassion rather than blame.
  7. To do what you love, rather than what you know.

Life is short. Let’s start living.

With the soulfulness of Wayne Dyer and the entrepreneurial spirit of Richard Branson, Terri is a world-class business growth expert, social impact investor, and serial entrepreneur whose purpose is to inspire potential. With her own money, Terri built a portfolio of purposeful companies, Share On Purpose, Inc., and now invests in and creates mission-driven start-ups.

In a career that spans more than 25 years, Terri has launched, owned, sold, rebranded or turned around more than 40 companies. She is known for her game-changing business models and personal transformation frameworks.

Everything she built came directly from a wellspring of perseverance and soulful resiliency, which she openly shares through her first purposeful brand, Succeed On Purpose.


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