By Matt Shoup, an EO Colorado member and president of M & E Painting, LLC
Waking up at 4 a.m. is not an accident for me. As an entrepreneur, the early hours of every morning are my quiet time to plan, reflect, cast vision and get stuff done, so Saturday September 1, 2012 started like any other. I jumped out of bed at 4 a.m., took a shower, and walked downstairs to make myself a café con leche (coffee with milk). At 4:35 a.m., as my heart intensely circulated caffeine throughout my body, I began rewriting and touching up my will. In just a few hours my family and I would be boarding a plane for a month-long overseas vacation.
Then at 4:42 a.m., I died. I died for 18 minutes and was brought back to life at 5:00 a.m. I went to the other side. There was no bright shining light, no montage of major life events flashing before my eyes, no voice calling me toward pearly gates.
I was not struck by a sudden heart attack. No car came crashing through my living room, nor did I croak from an overdose of Spanish coffee. I killed myself. I envisioned myself laying in my casket with my family and friends gathered around me in mourning. I watched for the sincerity of emotion on their faces. The realization that soon someone would be taking the podium for the eulogy hit me and I prepared myself for what would be said. It was excruciating, and I felt myself fighting what was clearly unchangeable. The legacy I left was not the final story I wanted to leave and it was not the book I wanted to write.
I turned my thoughts back and gasped my first breath of a new life. In me was a fresh determination to write my book in every action of my daily life. To live out something that would be worth leaving in my words, actions and intentions. While I am here on Earth, my life has an immediate impact on everyone I come in contact with, but I also leave a legacy that lives on in the people I touched. I only have a predetermined amount of time on this planet to make an impact, and I choose to do so now.
When my new life started at 5 a.m. I started writing my book based on the legacy I am leaving. I asked myself the good, tough questions:
- What is the small paragraph in the newspaper going to say?
- Why can’t it be the whole newspaper?
- Whose lives have I altered and in what ways?
- Are my actions right now, and every minute of every day congruent with this story?
- Am I taking the steps that will lead me to this legacy?
- If not, why am I participating in these actions?
- What am I thinking about and worrying about right now?
- How do these thoughts help me leave a meaningful book and touch lives?
These questions put the daily responsibility of being a man, leader, husband, father, friend and entrepreneur into an eternal perspective. My daily tasks are ordered around my legacy and every time I find myself doing something that is not furthering my desired legacy, I remove it from my life.