Work as you will die tomorrow

My Japanese boss is an innovative person. He always requires his employees thinking further than the solutions for present.

“Never be afraid to make the big changes!” – said he.

When you get stuck among many choices that you don’t know what is the best to choose, he encourages you to choose the most innovative way. That solution used to be the motivation of Apple too (in the dynasty of Steve Jobs) with the slogan “Think different”. However, seems like Apple only has been the shadow of its pass now with nothing different between Iphone 4, 5, 6 and go on.

I have known this motivation as well when I recruited a new online marketing executive. There were many candidates applying to this position. Most of them were young, had no experience in marketing whether traditional or online methods. Which I had to do for choosing a new partner among them?

I emailed my boss for instruction, and here was his reply:

“I always think that the good coal can burn the big fire. Please notice that we don’t recruit for present, we do it for the future of us. Please choose the youngest and most aggressive man among them. The man who can work as he will die tomorrow, the man who never be afraid to make the big changes. Do you know what I mean? Selecting the coal instead of trying to find a fire at the moment.”

His words has enlightened me. I don’t know working hardly till dead is Japanese style or not, but the true is most of Vietnamese don’t work with 100% (or even 50 – 80%) their effort. We should feel shame when we are distracted in work by many stuff, scrap and 1,000 other reasons that sound making sense. However, let me ask you some questions:

“Can you predict what will happen in future?”

“Can you estimate how many years you will live in this life?”

“Do you know you will wake up tomorrow or not?”

You got it, right? You should try your best in every single moment you work. Thus, you don’t have to say sorry with anything and anyone even you. With me, this idea sounds like the meditation art in work. Imaging you die tomorrow to appreciate the moment. Focus on the moment, and your concern about future will be disappeared.

When writing this post, I thought about my own story 3 months ago. At that time, I had to decide to quit my job at FPT or not. I did not know what would happen to me when I got a new job – a new challange in a new company with a new subject that I had never known about it before. Luckily, I remembered an anonymous quote:

“At the last moment of life, no one feels sorry about the foolish things he done except the chances he missed.”

How could I say? I made up my mind to quit my job at FPT. And now, though still have to face with many many difficult from my current job, I got the biggest lesson that I would like to share with you:

“Stay young and aggressive as much as you can

Never be afraid to make the big changes

Keep calm and work as you will die tomorrow.”

– 27/4/2015 –


3 thoughts on “Work as you will die tomorrow

  1. Why “Work”? Why not “Live”?

    Working is not the only thing you have to do in this life. I think, each life is an opportunity for each person – we should not waste it!

    1. @hnanh: I totally agree with you. However, this post has just talked about “how to work productively” without including “how to live a fulfilling life”. Actually, there are many Japanese staffs and managers in our company working hardly at the moment. They usually start the work day from 9:00 am to 10:00pm (or even to the early morning of the next day).

      I myself, though admiring the Japanese working spirit, still think that it’s not the good idea to take the balance between life and work. Thus, we will discuss how to use 80/20 rule of Pareto to maximize our productivity with least effort. Working to live instead of living to work, right?

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