Our greatest fear is death. The mere thought of dying causes our souls to shiver – in distress we hold our breath. Death creates fear and anxiety because it signals a transition, a loss, a passing. It’s easy to embrace beginnings, yet it can be difficult to face life’s endings.
There are many dimensions of death. It’s when you lose your job. It’s when a relationship comes to an end. It’s when you discard a good idea to let a better one in. And yes, it’s also when the people you love the most pass away. You can’t avoid death. In some way, it will show up at your doorstep every day.
When this picture was taken, I was still working at HP. I had just returned home from a business trip, drained and exhausted. During the drive home from the airport, I cried uncontrollably. I felt trapped in a job that was all-consuming and unfulfilling. I had achieved success, but at the expense of purpose and meaning.
When I pulled into my driveway, I waited until my tears dried before going inside. Then I walked into the family room to greet my husband and son with a forced smile on my face, but they quickly saw through the lie. After a few moments of silence, my soul shifted. Even though I excelled in sales and marketing, I realized it was time to say goodbye. It was time to pursue my true calling. Instinctively, I asked my son to grab the camera so I could capture the moment that I decided to die.
When death arrives, it can be tempting to run from it.
Running away won’t keep it at bay. The only way to deal with death is to surrender to it. After taking that picture, I surrendered. I surrendered climbing the corporate ladder to focus on what really mattered. What mattered was waking up every day feeling unleashed and inspired instead of trapped and tired. What mattered was living authentically instead of being worried about playing the game so I didn’t get fired. What mattered was giving up a life filled with pretense and stress. Life is short and it wasn’t worth wasting one more day compromising my happiness. Ultimately, I surrendered my successful career at HP to pursue my passion for coaching. Because helping people to live free mattered most to me. Every time I surrendered, I died. Over and over again. But each death gave life to the dreams and aspirations that were lying dormant on the inside.
Death forces you to let go – to continue to move forward on your life’s journey instead of staying shackled to the status quo. When your soul shifts, it’s a signal that death is imminent. Of course, death can be painful but it’s essential. The sooner you die, the faster your life can evolve and unfold. Like a snake shedding its skin, death allows you to slough off and discard what’s no longer needed so you can continue to grow. If you want to keep growing in life, exhale and embrace death. On the other side of death is the life you’ve always wanted.