July 7, 2020

Life lessons from Robin Sharma’s book Who will cry when you die?

Robin Sharma is a best-selling author, motivational speaker and leader — he’s written a number of best sellers including The Monk who sold his Ferrari and The Greatness Guide. One of the things that I really like about his books though is that he has numerous stories that make you think and leave an impression in your mind. I recently read through Who will cry when you die in one sitting — I think it is the way that he writes his books with one concept in a small chapter that makes it an easy and digestible read. Here are a number of lessons and stories that made me think about my life:

Maintaining your perspective

One day, a man with a serious illness was wheeled into a hospital room where another patient was resting on the bed. The two became friends and the man with the serious illness would often look out the window and describe the amazing things outside the window for the other patient who was bedridden. He would describe the trees, the leaves, the people walking in the park and at first, the bedridden patient was delighted to be able to have a view outside the window. As time went on though, he started to become frustrated that he could not look outside the window and then resentful that the other patient was able to look outside the window and he could not.

One night, the patient with the serious illness had a bad coughing fit and stopped breathing. The bedridden patient, rather than pressing the button for help, chose to do nothing. The next morning, the patient who had a view outside the window was pronounced dead and was wheeled out of the hospital room. The other man quickly asked that his bed be placed next to the window but as he looked out the window, he saw something horrifying. The only thing outside the window was a brick wall. His former roommate had spoken from imagination and made up things to help the bedridden patient.

It’s a story that reminds us of the perspective that we sometimes have in life and how you need to constantly re-evaluate how your perspective can compare to others. What might be a bad driver on the road may be a person experiencing a recent break-up with their partner. What might be horrible customer service at Starbucks may just be a cashier’s first day on the job.

Recharging

In the movie Everest, one of the keys to climbing the mountain is to have a good base camp. It is impossible for the team of climbers to get to the top without the camp at the bottom that offered them a place for rest. Once they reach camp two, they return to the base for a few weeks to rest and acclimatize to the environment. They then go to camp three and then return to base camp to again, recharge. And then on reaching camp four they go back down the mountain to base camp before making the final push to the summit.

How do you recharge, rest and renew your energy? Or better yet, how do you start off your morning well-rested and ready to tackle the adventures in your life? Do you read? Exercise? Meditate? Journal? Develop a morning routine that sets you up for success.

Have a living funeral

When Robin was doing research for his book, he came across the story of an Indian maharaja who would have a strange morning ritual. Every day, after waking up, he would celebrate his own funeral with music and flowers. He would then say to himself “I have lived fully, I have lived fully, I have lived fully”. It is a strange ritual but in a way, it gives incredible clarity to connect with your mortality and to remember that time is slipping away every single day and that you should not waste it for a second.

Increase your value

Why does a brain surgeon get paid more than a McDonald’s employee? Is it because one or the other person is a better person? Does either one work harder? Smarter? The difference, in Robin’s mind, is that the brain surgeon has accumulated more specialized knowledge and specific know-how than the McDonald’s employee and since there are far fewer people that can do what brain surgeons can do, they are more valuable in the marketplace. This is why they get paid more than McDonald’s employees — money is a symbol for how much value a person can add to the world at large. Want to get paid more? Increase the value that you bring to this world.

How to take a walk

There’s a book that Robin refers to written by Alan Devoe who talks about how to get the most out of walking. First, a walk should never have a specific purpose. Second, you should not take any worries with you when you walk. Lastly, be aware of the things around you. Pay attention to the colours, the sights and the smells as you walk.

Decompress before you go home

There was a study that Dan Ariely, a best selling author and behavioral economist that showed that people in extremely stressful jobs would do well to have a decompression process before they go home. They did a study on prison guards of maximum security prisons, who have to deal with daily violence and threats to their lives on a daily basis. They told the prison guards to wash their hands as they left work and they found that the prison guards had less stress when they got home. The act of washing their hands was a symbolic way of separating themselves from their work and ‘washing’ away their responsibilities and stress from their job.

How can you use this in your life? Take a moment before you get back home — maybe in your car or outside your front door to decompress. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next few hours with your day before you go to bed. Think about your family. Think about the fun things that you can do.


Interested in more great stories, quotes and life lessons? I recommend reading The Greatness Guide Book 1 and The Greatness Guide Book 2 also from Robin Sharma.

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