In 2004, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, was diagnosed with pancreas cancer. The doctor told him it was almost certainly incurable and told him he no more than 3 to 6 months to live.

What would you do if you were told today you had less than 3 to 6 months to live?

The reality of death, limited time and chances is a very real one we have to face every single day. We tend to forget, and bask in the glow of our comfort zones, letting each day go by and conveniently forget that one day, this too shall pass.

Jobs went through that whole day without that illusion. Later that evening, a few cells were extracted from the tumor…and it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreas cancer that could be cured with surgery.

Steve is fine now, and is giving the 2007 MacWorld Keynote in a few hours’ time.

In my Start Your New Year In The Best Direction post I decided my leading word for the year is going to be courage, and I love Steve’s quote about his experience from his Stanford University 2005 commencement address; it describes courage perfectly and I strive to live up to it:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.