Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Co-CEO of Carlson Inc., has accomplished many things in her life – running the 3rd largest US-based private company, championing many causes such as the fight against human trafficking, raising a beautiful family, several of whom are following in her footsteps at Carlson.
What I want to talk about today, though, is how she has chosen to show her courage in overcoming tragedy. In 1985 Ms. Nelson received the phone call no parent wants to get – her 19-year-old daughter, Juliet, was killed in an automobile accident during her first year at Smith College. This devastated her and she spent time wrestling about Juliet’s death, desperately trying to make sense of this tragedy. She says that, “I knew I could choose to give up and put the pillow over my head, or I could fight back. I knew my options of becoming ‘bitter or better’ and wanted to learn from this experience. I never gave up. I continued to search, ask, and knock, and eventually the door opened again. Slowly, but surely, I gained insights that helped me heal and get better.” (Julian, 2001)
One of those insights, she says, is that “The only time we have is today. We should live each day as our signature day. We may have ten thousand days remaining, or it could be our last. If this day stood for all of time, is this a day you would want to have your name on?” (Julian, 2001)
I literally stood still when I first read this. What a great question!
So many people move through life living one To Do to the next and not looking up to see what the big picture is – or can be. I know I get that way sometimes – do you? And the beautiful thing about this is that it doesn’t have to be one of those grand, “everything went perfect” days. It’s taking your life, one decision at a time, and moving toward your greatness.
So often we let that little gremlin voice in our head tell us to slow down, that we don’t need to go “there” because we may fail, that we don’t need to do “that” because we could get hurt … again. I say that gremlin is merely a sign that you’re about to do something great. Ask yourself – what am I about to do that is causing my gremlin to pop up his ugly little head? And then you can make a decision that can change your life, or move you one little baby step closer to your vision. Know that anytime you’re taking a risk, you’re stepping into your greatness!
Is today a day you would want to sign your name to?