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 includingWhole 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 InspireMeToday.com.

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
Related:Wisdom from John Garcia
Related:Introducing InspireMeToday.com

Photo Credit: Gail Lynne Goodwin


Tim C.
Tim C4 years ago


Olga Lustosa
Olga Lustosa5 years ago

Strange thoughts!

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda5 years ago

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.

Kirsten B.
Past Member 5 years ago

Nice piece and good messages. Thanks.

Er F.
Er F5 years ago

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

Marianne B.
Marianne B5 years ago

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

Donna M.
Donna M5 years ago


Nicole Weber
Nicole W5 years ago

thank you

Kristine Huff
Kristine H5 years ago

Creatively said and what a great point! Thanks.

Debra G.
Missy G5 years ago