I was on the terminal train at the Atlanta airport, heading out on a day trip to lead an important client session. I was excited about doing a speech for this client and was thinking about it while riding on the train. I was not really paying attention to anything around me. I was just waiting for the train doors to open at Terminal C.
The guy next to me asked, “Hey, does this train go to terminal F?”
“Sure does.” I told him. I went on to explain how the system worked at the Atlanta airport, and, ever curious, asked him: “What brought you to Atlanta?”
“Well……” He paused and looked down before continuing. “I have cancer. I came to Atlanta to see a specialist.”
“I have 6 months to live. Maybe 6 months, if I’m lucky. “
I wasn’t sure what to say, and without thinking, I asked if he had any advice for me. He did. He said most people in his shoes say “Make every day count.” He definitely agreed with that, but he also had more advice for me. He said, “Worry less.”
He wished he hadn’t worried as much during his lifetime. We talked a bit more about not wasting time with worries, but only for a moment longer, because Terminal C popped up too soon. On my way out, we took the time to introduce ourselves. His name is Greg and he has two daughters, just like me. I left Greg on that train as he headed for terminal F to fly to Philly. I took the escalators up to terminal C, headed to Chicago.
I had a quick lunch at the airport, mostly staring out the window, thinking about Greg. He made a great point about how much time is wasted worrying. When I’m with our family, I sometimes worry about work. When I’m at work, I sometimes worry that I’m not spending enough time with my family. When I’m working on the weekends writing my book, trying to meet the publisher’s manuscript deadlines, I worry that I’m not working out as much as I should.
It seems that when I’m making progress on one thing, I worry about my life’s counterbalance on the other side. A certain amount of worry is helpful. It keeps us on our game. Too much worry is destructive, sapping our energy. After meeting Greg, I’ll be reminding myself of this often: I’m going to quit worrying about what I’m not doing, so I can focus on what I am doing.