Five Minutes to Live

Accountability Purpose


Key Point: Why don’t I live and love more as if I had just five minutes before I died? What might I do differently today if I did? This past week we lost a beloved team member. He passed in his sleep, and likely was unaware of his last five minutes. Thirty years ago, the seven astronauts on the Challenger that exploded in the Florida sky, remained alive during their 65,000 foot plunge into the ocean. Can you imagine what the atmosphere was like in that cockpit, knowing that in a few moments you would be dead? What would go through our minds?

Over the last few days, I have found myself feeling sad and unsettled thinking about our colleague Steve’s death. Maybe it’s because I’m in my mid-60s and appreciating that the statistical life expectancy “runway” is getting shorter. Or maybe because too many people I cherish and love live so darn far away. Although it’s not usually something I think about, I must remind myself that I just cannot blithely live assuming there will be another day. Essentially though, without becoming too morbid, in some ways it’s really all a blur. Whether it’s five minutes, five days, five or fifty more years… Life is over faster than we could have imagined.

When I was doing research for my book, “The Character Triangle,” too often I found the advanced elderly and/or dying looking backward wishing: “If only I could?” “If I only realized?” “If only I did?” This often included acknowledging having given in to the twin seductions of “when” and “hope.” “WHEN I’m… I will…” “I HOPE one day that…” However, I found that fiercely self accountable people had a growth mindset, and much more of an action oriented “do it now” approach to life; not in a reckless way, but in a “joie de vivre” fashion. They live and love with few regrets and seem to have a built in clock that reminds them how fragile their next five minutes is.

Character Moves:

  1. Even though we all understand the theme, this blog is a gentle reminder to me and you that we DO have NOW! Thankfully, most of us also have the next five minutes and more. What will we do to live more fully, understanding that fact? Who will we love more?
  1. And what if we challenged ourselves about what we have not done yet on our way to a richer life? What might we do? What are we waiting for?
  1. Please keep the work we do in perspective. It is a significant part of our life and it’s only a portion of the mix that makes up who we are and what we stand for. Appreciate the blessings we have. Also, I must throw out a cheer for the short form version of The Character Triangle: Do It Now! Be Kind! Give more! We’re worth it!

Last Five Minutes in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: When I ever get the bravery to dwell on how long I’ve been in the professional working world, or how removed from college and high school I am, it’s almost hard for me to believe. I’m a Millennial, but I’m an old Millennial. When’d that happen? I don’t worry about mortality so much, but, I’m getting the first sense of how fast Monday turns to Friday, Sept. 1 turns to Oct. 1, and how fast 2016 will be 2017. Per cliché, life goes by fast, and those last “five minutes” must feel like warp speed. We owe it to ourselves to be self-accountable and make sure our story, however long or short, doesn’t have chapters that readers would skip through.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis.