I’m writing this at an airport. I’m watching people say goodbye to loved ones and it makes me wonder what they are saying.
What I hope is that it isn’t the first time they have said it during their time with each other.
Did they wait until the last three-minutes they had together to say the most important and meaningful exchanges: “I love you”, “Thank you”, “I’ll miss you”?
So often that’s the case. We have friends over for dinner, spend hours communicating, and it’s only at the door, saying goodbye, that we talk about our appreciation for their friendship and hospitality.
I was touched this past week when friends of 30 years shared on our first night together how much our friendship meant to them. Unfortunately, these sentiments of love and affection are often left until departure or remain entirely unsaid.
Too often the most important exchange of feeling and relationship are left until our final moments together.
I believe there is a better way. What would our relationships be like if we started our exchanges with the most important and finished satisfied that we had communicated the important?
Don’t you ever wonder why you didn’t have intimate conversations earlier? Tragically, many people never have them at all.
My challenge, our challenge, is to reverse the trend and use our last words first.
I cannot remember my dad and I speaking deeply about our love for each other until we were both adults, and at first it was awkward. But it became easier and now several years after his death I’m very glad I ventured out of my comfort zone to say what mattered.
Believe me, this has been one of my life’s biggest challenges. I am naturally a reserved guy keeping my feelings of love and deep feelings of emotion to myself. But I have had to learn to change. I realise now that the love of others and for others needs to be communicated more easily and readily.
Life is precious and relationships are priority.
The richest relationships include conversations about the things that really matter.
I once read about a leadership development seminar where the facilitator asked people to give a three-minute talk to everyone imagining that at the end they would die. I know it sounds morbid but it challenged them to focus on the important.
What would you say in those last three minutes? And who would you say it to?
Now take that and bring it forward, to today. Tell someone today you love them, spend three minutes writing them a card, an email, or giving them a call.
While I confess I’m not great at this, my friends have taught me something valuable, that if we get better at it, our lives will be the richer. If it is something new to you, aim to start small, just say something. The more you do it, the more comfortable and natural it will become.
Don’t leave it until last, until the goodbyes of life.
Use your last words first.