Yesterday, I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote at the Vaynerworld conference. I like listening to Gary speak because it’s unscripted and it’s what he truly believes. There is a real sense of honesty in the way the guy speaks in public. It’s not polished, but it’s real. More importantly he has the real world examples to back it up. That’s why he can get away with an unpolished presentation.

The part of the interview that really hit home with me is something Gary has mentioned before about only having ‘One Life.’ He truly believes we only have one shot at this life to do what we want to do and most people are not taking advantage. 

I completely agree with Gary. I think we have one life on this world so we should make the most of it. I know it’s easier said than done. Gary is doing it. Many of us, myself included, are not been living this way.

While talking on the same subject about only have one opportunity, Gary mentioned that in his twenties he used to spend a lot of time talking with people in the eighties or nineties about their lives because he wanted to find out what those people felt was important. The main answer he received was regret. They regretted not taking more risks, not going after what they wanted, and not having the same opportunities people have today.

I notice this a lot myself while talking with older people. You can learn what is truly important to someone at the ends of their life. It usually all comes down to regrets about something they didn’t do and their relationships either with family and friends. At the end of your life, you’re not going to care about the meetings you missed or the work you could have done on the weekend. You’re going to regret not being their for your child, ruining a relationship, or falling out of touch with friends.

One of the only people I knew who weren’t like that depiction was my grandfather. Whenever my grandfather would ask me about my job, after I graduated from college, was the simple question, “Are you happy?” I’d usually say some kind of half answer like, “it’s okay,” but I’ve never enjoyed my work like my grandfather, who dropped out of high school to serve in World War II and was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known. What did he do for a living? He started a construction company with his father. He worked all day, rain or shine, building things with his hands that are still standing today.

In many ways I’m jealous of him, at least professionally. I’ve never met a person as happy with their choosen profession as him. Not in all my jobs with people who probably made much more than my grandfather ever made, who earned graduate degrees from top universities, and dress like they have a million bucks. When I’d ask these people about their day, and how it was going, their responses weren’t much different from mine. 

My grandfather’s passion for his work, sticking to his principles, and focusing on what made him happy is one of my guiding lights in this life. Someday when a twenty some year old kids, maybe my kids or grandkids, ask me about my life, I don’t want regret to be the first thing that comes to mind.

Don’t waste your only shot.