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Wisdom from Michael Bungay Stanier

Wisdom from Michael Bungay Stanier

I’ve got 500 words.

I’ve got 11,697 days.

I know that because I’ve sat down and calculated when – statistically at least – I’m going to die.

I know this may strike some of you as a tad morbid. But a memento mori is a time honored tradition – if you see a skull in a 17th Century painting, that’s what that’s all about.

But back to me.

September 15, 2043 is the big date.

Let’s say that gives me 32 years or so left to kick around this planet of ours, with 42 years already under my belt.

Stewart Brand – author of a range of terrific books including Whole Earth Discipline – says that it takes about five years to do a big project, a Great Work Project.

That’s mastering a role, writing a book, starting a company, whatever it might be for you.

So that gives me six, maybe seven big things left to do.

If, that is, I step up and take on the challenge.

If I don’t drown in busywork and spend the next thirty years thinking that answering my emails and attending meetings counts.

If I don’t step out of the comfortable rut of “Good Work” and just getting things done.

I get to do those big projects if I step out to the edge of myself and summon my courage to take the first step into the unknown….Continue reading at

Michael is the founder of Box of Crayons, the author of the book Do More Great Work, and one of the authors of End Malaria.

Related: Wisdom from Owen Marcus
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Gail Lynne Goodwin's brings the world the best of the best inspiration from people like Sir Richard Branson, Jack Canfield, Debbie Ford and more. Each day we ask our Luminary to answer, "If you only had 500 words to share, what wisdom would you want to pass on to humanity? What have you learned that matters, and what doesn't?" We share their wisdom for FREE to help our community live an inspired life, each and every day!


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2:36PM PDT on Apr 24, 2013


1:34PM PST on Nov 16, 2012

Strange thoughts!

10:09PM PST on Nov 12, 2012

It is good to do great works, but it is also great to do a lot of small good works well. Lives spent in serving a small community are also worthwhile.

11:29AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

Nice piece and good messages. Thanks.

11:13AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

While it is a bit morbid, it does help think about the big picture and big goals to accomplish. Thanks!

10:39AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us when we live. (unknown ). Thanks for the article.

7:11AM PST on Nov 12, 2012


5:59AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

thank you

4:44PM PST on Nov 11, 2012

Creatively said and what a great point! Thanks.

1:03PM PST on Nov 11, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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