"When the Stakes Are High, and the Moment is Brief"

Published on June 18th, 2019

Everyone struggles with some level of resistance. The task ahead of us looks too long, too hard, too risky, or lacks a big enough reward to provide the motivation to act.

Everyone struggles with some level of procrastination. We'll get to it tomorrow, or when we find the time, or the most nebulous of all... "someday."

But what if circumstances change and we have no choice to act? Moving homes is a bitch, but not if you discover your house is perched on a foundation that is about to experience a landslide.

But what if tomorrow never comes? What if you find out tomorrow that you have a terminal illness and have days instead of decades?

10 years ago, I heard a quote that keeps ringing in my ears every week. It was a statement by Joel Roberts giving a speech to a room full of entrepreneurs looking to take their businesses to the next level. The question was, what do you do "when the stakes are high, and the moment is brief."

Mic drop.

The stakes are always high because we've been given this miracle we call life. No matter how bad our current situation is or how unfair life may have been, we live on this statistical improbability called Earth. We live at the pinnacle of our creation or evolution (whichever you believe). We live in a time of infinity, where virtually anyone reading this article has access to the internet and therefore the ability to learn any new skill or start any new career. The stakes are high because we can fulfill whatever potential we have to the degree that we want and live a great story.

The moment is brief because we have one life. ONE LIFE. And while the average lifespan may be 80 years old, any one of us may die tomorrow. The business that we started may have X months of financial runway, but X months will blink by and become tomorrow. The projects and dreams we wish to start "someday" will soon become the regrets of yesterday.

I have many regrets, most of them because I'm overly ambitious, but even that is a cop-out. The reality is that I acted like I had all the time in the world and that the goal wasn't enticing enough to act. The fact is that neither was true. The stakes of life are high, and our moment on Earth is brief. This is why that quote rings in my ears and why I've developed a bias towards action. Netflix will always be waiting for me when I no longer have the ability to get out of my own chair. Even then, there is still so much to experience in one's final days... if you have something that moves you.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CXO of Atomic Form. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.