“If you only had 10 years to live, how would you spend the rest of your life?”
This is a question I asked myself a few weeks ago, when the Major League Baseball Players Union leader Michael Weiner passed away after a fight with brain cancer. What struck me was that Mr. Weiner was 51 years old – a relatively young age, and exactly 10 years from where I sit today. I thought to myself, “10 years, that’s not a long time.” And I decided at that point that every decision I make moving forward will be in that context. If I only have 10 years left, how do I want to spend it?
I thought of this today with the news of the passing of Todd Mills, the visionary behind the Doritos Loco Taco. This time, brain cancer took him at 41. It’s a great story of a grass roots push to bring forth a product from which he was never going to profit. Just a fan of an idea who wanted to see it come to life. This is the quote I loved in the story: “Todd being Todd, he never asked for anything,” [a longtime friend] said. “He said, ‘I just want my tacos.'” This after a reported $1 Billion in sales by Taco Bell to date. Todd’s story is very emblematic of my “10 years” approach. He didn’t want money or recognition – just the taco.
Last night, ESPN ran Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech from 1993. If you haven’t see it, take a few minutes to watch it now. It makes me think, it makes me laugh and it makes me cry. Those are the three things he encouraged everyone to do every single day. And if you do all three of those things, as he says, “that’s a heck of a day.”
I hope I am blessed with many more than just 10 years. But if that’s all I’ve got, I’ll be doing my best to live each day to the fullest – laughing, crying, thinking – and focusing on doing what’s right. And if I’m lucky, I’ll make a lot of people happy along the way – just like Todd Mills. (In fact, I’ll be thinking of him next time I have a Doritos Loco Taco. Which I may have to make time for today.)