Wednesday, August 26, 2009

27 Things to Do Before You Die (by Bradley J. Moore)

Corporate executive Bradley J. Moore, aka @shrinkingcamel is today's guest blogger. Here's a bit from his "official" bio:

Business executive Bradley J. Moore writes with raw honesty and biting humor about the challenges of connecting spiritual Christian life with career and family life. His writing is featured at several online magazines including HighCalling, InsideWork, SalesGravy and BlogCritics. He has also been featured in the prestigious business magazine, The Conference Board Review.

Okay...whatever. I just think he's a hoot! I'm not quite sure how he found my blog, but he was kind enough to do a write up of me on The High Calling Blogs back in June of this year, so I totally owed him a solid. I'm not sure this constitutes that, but here's Brad:

From time to time I will indulge myself in the tacky genre of self-help-leadership-development books. Usually I skim through the pages quickly to see if I can find one or two ideas of substance that might come in handy later on, perhaps some catchy quote I can rip off to make me sound smart and sophisticated at an upcoming business conference cocktail reception. I’ve discovered that if you want to appear smart in business, you really only have to be about five minutes ahead of everyone else with any given category of information. And since most people do not like to read, this is not so hard.

Recently I was paging through one of these books, and I came across an exercise under an inconspicuous little heading that said, "27 Thing to Do Before You Die." This struck me as irresistibly intriguing, even though it was really just more of your standard-fare motivational crap. But this particular author appeared to be a bit more ambitious than most. Usually you will hear your friends and relatives talk about the one or two things they want to do before they die. Not three. Not five, not even ten. But this book was asking for twenty seven. Isn’t that being greedy?

This exercise was way too tempting to pass up, especially given my recent bouts with a mid-life existential crisis. "This will be fun AND fulfilling!" I told myself. So off I went to my writing corner, busily scrawling out a list of what would surely become a multitude of interesting and exciting dreams that were so reflective of my dynamic and magnetic personality.

Numbers one through five were easy. They were all the things I complain about anyway that I am either currently working on, or those nagging ideas that for some reason I have never managed to get around to. Like, getting a book published, for instance. Which should only be a matter of time, since my Blog has so handily dominated the "Business-Inspirational-Memoir-Humorist" genre that is so popular with publishers these days. And also there is the simple pleasure of taking my wife to an opera production at the Met. That is simply a matter of purchasing the tickets and saving the date. No big deal. Or, how about becoming a CEO? I’ve managed to make it to the senior officer/executive post for several years, but have not yet taken the Chief role (Oh, but just you wait!). Then there are all those European travel plans with the family that keep falling by the wayside. I’m just waiting for value of the dollar to rise against the Euro, I keep telling my wife.

Six through ten were not so hard either, especially after I gave myself permission to just let go and dream big, even if I didn’t think it was really ever possible. The Family Lodge in the Adirondacks? Check. The enviable art collection? Check. The ocean-side vacation home? Absolutely. And yes, I WILL speak fluent German before I die. How hard could that be, if I just put my mind to it?

The ideas stopped flowing so freely after #11, so I decided to enlist my wife in the exercise. Not that she would be able to tell me what I wanted to do before I die (although she does seem to know me better than I know myself sometimes), but maybe hearing her own views on the subject would further stimulate mine. So, we turned on some opera music, poured a couple glasses of Merlot and started cooking Chicken Cacciatore. That always seems to get the juices flowing.

As we traded dreams and ideas, I sheepishly began to notice how materialistic and ego-driven many of the previous items on my death-to-do list were. Humbled and repentant, I began to focus on generating more meaningful, spiritual priorities - opportunities where I could give back, which of course should have been at the top of the list to begin with. I may not be the most spiritually pure Christian, but at least I am honest (in other words, I still did not change the order of my list). Maybe it’s the Merlot talking, but here comes the week-long spiritual retreat at the monastery at number thirteen. I have a friend who does this regularly and I always find myself jealous (spiritual jealousy- is that a sin?). Next, I thought about the many missions and service trips that I have conveniently avoided for all these years, fervently sending on my daughters as proxy. Next time, it will be me.

There. That felt better.

By the time I reached number seventeen, I was so spiritually pumped up that I found myself creating the very admirable but pathetically generic goal of "Inspiring people to live better lives." (But I really do mean it.)

Number 18 was "Get a cat." I am currently prevented from fulfilling that particular dream because my wife and daughter are allergic. If I’m the one dying, then I should get my cat.

That’s all I’ve come up with so far. Eighteen. I have nine more to go. And I don’t want to flake out by just adding new countries to the list of destinations I’d like to travel to.

I didn’t think this exercise would be so challenging. What does that say about me? Maybe I’m just too comfortable with where I’m at right now. Perhaps I don’t have enough vision. Or, maybe this was just another tacky and ridiculous motivational exercise meant to sell a book that tells us we are capable of far more than we will ever be able to realistically achieve in life.

In any case, the Chicken Cacciatore we made that night was delicious.

Check out more of Brad's in depth spiritual and and corporate musings over at Shrinking the Camel, including such deep, thought provoking topics as How not to Suck as a Leader.


Shark Bait said...

Woah, Deja Vu.
I feel like I read this post only yesterday. :-)


Marni said...

Cool post and cool ideas. I have a "bucket list" as the hubs and I call it. I am so hoping to skadoosh into the gates of Heaven with all my bucket list items crossed off. We'll see.

Kat, I wanna read your list. I'll post one if you do!

Bradley J Moore said...

Shark bait- I assume that is snark for, "Awesome post,dude!"

Marnie- Great idea! I think it does give a little glimpse into our inner self to make that list and share it. Maybe not 27, though...

katdish said...

Get a cat?

You have some lofty goals, my friend...

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

27? That's not so many goals? If reality isn't a factor, I can list that many off the top of my head.

Also? I just added one: to use the word skadoosh in a comment.

Bridget Chumbley said...

Spiritual jealousy...I suffer from this and pray it is NOT a sin! LOL Great post :)

Jeanne Damoff said...

Fun post! And small world. I'm allergic to cats, too.

Helen said...

I am allergic to cats.

I don't have a bucket list. There is ONE thing I want to do at this point. Okay, maybe two.

1) Become a mommy. (We are expanding our vision of ways that can happen, and moving forward)
2) Help the DRE of my Church delegate some responsibility (her husband had a stroke at age 47, and she juggles too much now..) I am willing to help out by taking over the Bible Study or Prayer Meeting, but she seems to feel she has to do it all...Maybe if I could help her find someone she would feel more comfortable entrusting these responsibilities to..

Anyhow, I am sure that once 1) is accomplished, 26 will flow naturally...