There's nothing like the impending prospect of death to change a person's outlook. Take it from Jon Loew, founder and CEO of Keeptree, a video sharing time capsule platform that allows users to record and store videos that are delivered at a later date or according to life milestones. He developed the idea for the company when doctors gave him less than two months to live after a violent reaction to an antibiotic left his central nervous system paralyzed. He wanted to leave video messages for his kids after his death that they would receive at key points in their lives, such as birthdays, graduations, and wedding days. After figuring out how to do it–and making a surprising full recovery–he transformed his solution into a full-fledged company.
Here's what he says he learned from thinking he would die–undeniable truths everyone needs to know about living the best kind of life.
1. Allocate how you will spend your time.
Your time on this planet is finite. Imagine you knew exactly how many days, weeks or years you have left. Would you be more intentional about how you use them? What do you want to spend your time here working on? Who do you want to spend it with? Be smart and think about what percentage of your time you are going to spend on various activities. "Spend the majority of your time doing things with people that you like, and spending as much time with your family as you can," he says. "Once you learn about the economy of time, you can apply that to business pretty simply."
2. Don't ever use the word "emergency" in a business setting.
Unless someone is in danger, dying or dead, it's not an emergency, but a challenge. "There are lots of people out there that are facing challenges that were far greater than mine," he says. "I'm sure that they would not like to hear someone talking about a business deal as a life-or-death situation."
3. Take fear and anxiety out of business.
You can spend a lot of time thinking about everything that can go wrong with your business or a particular deal, but in reality 90 percent of the things you worry about never actually happen. Instead, create just a handful of contingency plans and free yourself to be more productive and move onto the next big thing. The other benefit to removing fear and anxiety from your work life: You'll appear more confident, a character trait that breeds success.
4. If you have to try too hard, maybe it's a bad idea.
While tenacity and perseverance are admirable qualities, the notion that you should never quit–no matter what–is misguided. "I pursued lots of ideas in my short time on this earth. Some have been successful, some not-so successful. And in looking back I can see there were certain situations where probably I was ignoring the market or the trend and I was pushing things too hard," he says. "Sometimes it's better to let those situations go, and pursue something where there's a little bit more momentum on your side."
5. Laugh about everything.
If you look hard enough you can likely find an element of humor in just about every situation. Make people laugh and not only will you make them feel better, you'll bond with them, as well. "It helps me laugh at myself when something goes wrong," he says. "And when I was really sick I actually made myself laugh by saying 'What the hell else is going to go wrong today?' And it was one of the only ways that I got through it."
6. The journey is the destination, so enjoy it.
People tend to set goals for when they hit certain ages, often in terms of family, home ownership and retirement. "They have their head down and they say 'That's my goal.' And that's their destination," he says. "But the fact of the matter is, we don't know when our lives are going to end so you better enjoy what you're doing and who you're doing it with as much as possible, because you're already at the destination."
7. Remember, things are never as bad or as good as they seem.
If you look back on your life you can probably conjure up memories of terrible situations and scenarios that in the long-term didn't turn out as bad as you thought at the time. In fact, most people are not skilled in assessing the actual level of perceived threats. So, the next time something happens that feels like a disaster, remember everything you've already come through. It's not the end. "The same could be said about being over-excited about good things," he says. "Keep things in perspective. Avoid the absolute margins of the bell curve and keep your reactions to developments in your life somewhat even-keeled."