THE BLOG
05/30/2014 03:26 pm ET Updated Jul 29, 2014

Get Busy Living or Busy Dying

I received this email from Ty*, a client of mine, on Thursday, the same day I learned one of my mentors, Coach Don Meyer, entered hospice care. Ty is a real estate investor and also works in the pharma industry, he got some bad news about a property he's selling and emailed me about it...

Just received news that the property I'm selling needs work. First thoughts are of how to get out of this situation as cheap as possible. I'm also angry that the previous owner and inspector took advantage of me. Fortunately I'm working at the cancer center today and I can see what real crisis is. A husband pushing his sick wife in a wheel chair, parents helping a little boy with no hair slowly walk down the hallway, an old man sitting by himself hooked to an IV line. This real estate situation may cost me $10,000 or more and may delay the sale by up to six months. But after the bill is paid I GET TO come home to a healthy loving wife and two healthy, happy children. The only crisis here is my own thinking that the world is unfair or that I've somehow been had when in reality I'm probably the luckiest S.O.B. in the world.


Yes you are and so am I, as are probably most of the people reading this. The reality for all of us is that if we're walking and breathing and don't have a terminal illness we really don't have any problems. And Coach Meyer has shown is that if you do have a terminal illness it's only terminal if your mindset is as well. Perhaps the best way to sum up the key to life is wisdom from the movie Shawshank Redemption when Andy Dufresne said to his fellow inmate Red:

"Life comes down to a simple choice: You're either busy living or busy dying."

It isn't just a quote from a movie, its advice for all of us. One of my mentors, Coach Don Meyer passed away last Sunday. He was proof of the power of perspective and the right mindset. On September 5, 2008, Coach Meyer's car collided head on with a truck and it nearly killed him. The accident shattered all his ribs, destroyed his spleen and tore his diaphragm. He also had part of his left leg amputated. Additionally, when doctors were treating him they discovered inoperable cancer of his liver and small intestine. Coach was hospitalized for two months, but he returned to coaching. While in a wheelchair at courtside in January 2009, he surpassed Bob Knight as the winningest coach in men's college basketball history with his 903rd victory. That same year he won the ESPN ESPY award for Perseverence.

Meyer's primary emotion after the accident was gratitude, here is what he told the media:

"What's great about this is I wouldn't have known about the cancer had I not had the wreck. God has blessed me with the one thing we all need, which is truth.
I can now fight with all of my ability."


From the day of the accident forward, despite his diagnosis, Coach Meyer chose to get busy living. He retired from coaching in 2009 and continued to serve others as a speaker and mentor and by raising money for a cancer treatment center in Aberdeen.

Shortly after his diagnosis, I interviewed him for my book and in our conversations he learned my daughter was hard of hearing. He sent her a one-legged Don Meyer bobble head doll and a handwritten note to let her know she wasn't alone. She has a constant reminder on her shelf that there are lots of other people succeeding in the face of adversity. They are busy living!

He did that gesture of kindness for her, yet he also did it for him. You see, gratitude is the antidote to fear. Coach Meyer shared with me after the surgery, that the first time he bent down to tie his shoes and realized he "had to" put his prosthetic leg on he cried. Then he realized he "got to" put his leg on and it took on new meaning. He got to continue to teach, mentor and inspire others in this new season of his life. Busy living indeed!

On Thursday I shaved my head in solidarity with Coach Meyer. I'm going to keep it that way as a reminder to maintain proper perspective. Please remember what my client Ty has reminded himself... Live a "GET TO" life, not a "HAVE TO" life.

You don't have to work, you get to. You don't have to deal with that difficult child you're raising, you get to. You don't have to go to the gym, you get to.

Now Let's Get Busy Living!

* Client's name and some details have been changed

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