The late chef and entrepreneur Anthony Bourdain's next book, World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, was announced this week. He was completing the book when he died in 2018. Finalized by his longtime assistant Laurie Woolever, World Travel will be out this October. And it's worth emphasizing that this is his last book. From what I understand, there will be no more new material from one of my favorite storytellers.
Bourdain's sudden death shocked many fans, but his is a sunset you always face when you are creating, leading, or influencing. In fact, we face them all the time.
Do what you can ...
Bourdain had been on enough precipices -- from serious drug addiction to suicidal moments -- to understand the brevity of his life. Or, as he might have said it, the brevity to create.
A while back, I shared a classic quote from Bourdain about the creative process:
I write in the morning. I wake up, and before I have any time to think about the million and one reasons to not write, I start writing. And I write as much as I can, and I go, go, go, go, go, and then I shove it in the drawer. And I don't look at it for a long time.
This was after the bestselling books, the popular TV series, and seven-figure media deals. It was after he was regularly recognized all around the globe when he traveled.
It was after "success." He wanted to get out as much good stuff as possible.
While you can ...
Bourdain's self-admitted nihilism could push him to think that the dream could be over at any moment. Perhaps he didn't believe the opportunity would last as long as it did. I think it also reflects the limited time we've all got in our particular position of influence.
It's not just death. Your time as a founder will wrap when you close up shop, or you take on a co-founder, or you sell your company. Your time as a parent of a baby ends in a year, and then you're the parent of a toddler for a bit, and then you're not. Your time as a leader or an employee is true until you move on, or you get promoted, and so on.
The influence, power, and opportunity you have right now isn't static. Even if you don't do anything, the world you can impact will change anyway.
With what you've got.
When I wrote pop cultural books, I called them Polaroid snapshots, because modern history always moves. If I had kept trying to capture it, then the books would have never been finished. They would have never shipped.
Now, I realize that everything we create is a snapshot. It is only when we move on, in death or in life, that we see the true impact, just as we do with Bourdain.
It's better to bring your worth while you can.