Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > use what time you have well to try and make a difference

use what time you have well to try and make a difference

News over the weekend that Mel Smith had died came as a shock, not least because he was two months younger than me. A reminder of my own mortality was hardly necessary as a year ago I was in hospital having just had a narrow escape from ending my innings, but we all have to accept that our time here is limited.

Sixteen years or so ago my best mate Colin called me to say that he had blagged a couple of tickets for the launch of one of that season’s new F1 cars and could I wangle the time to go with him. I couldn’t as I was flying out to the US to watch a motor race and we agreed to bring each other back some goodies and meet up a couple of weeks hence. I got home to find that a couple of days after we had spoken he had, like Mel Smith, died of a heart attack in his sleep. I had even missed his funeral.

My pal was also the same age as I was, but what he had packed into his life was amazing. He had shown me that the more you do for others and the greater good of those around you the more you get from your own life and I try to live up to that however hard it can be.

In the book that I wrote about my hospital stay I talked about one of the things that I could see from my window, the old hill fort that has produced evidence of people having been settled there more that 3000 years ago. In terms of just that period the time I will have had on Earth is but a tiny fraction and that also steers me towards making it count for something. In different ways both my pal and Mel Smith did things with their lives that were worthy of being remembered; they created things that were enjoyed by others then and later and both are fondly remembered by those that knew them as being good people.

There is an oft held view that you have to be ruthless to make it in life. To a degree that is true; a single minded focus is effective, but there is no need to be unpleasant in carrying it through. Mel Smith, and my pal Colin Underhill, are examples of folks who had the focus, but applied it with style.

Both left us too early, their lives, as Neil Diamond put it, done too soon, but the example is there; we don’t have much time here, so use it well and wisely to make a difference.


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