I have had the privilege of doing people development work for a number of hospitals in Southern Africa. On one such occasion, I took a tour through a large hospital in order to find out more about the hospital environment, partly to understand it and also partly to assist me in customising the workshop materials to suit the same environment. On a door, behind the nurses’ station in a maternity ward, I noticed a large sign which, I guess, someone had erected to encourage nurses to take excellent care of the precious little lives of the new-born babies. The sign, in big black bold letters, read: “The first five minutes of life are the most dangerous!” Then, to my amusement, I noticed that someone had taken a red marker and scribbled underneath: “The last five minutes are pretty dangerous too!”

At that moment, it struck me that we have the opportunity of making choices between the first and last five minutes – choices that impact the quality of our lives. We can’t really make too many choices in the first five or the last five minutes of our lives, but we can in the space between the two. Depending on the quality of the choices that we make, so also will depend the quality of the outcome.

Our choices impact the quality of our experience of life and where we put the focus of our energy and effort. Some time back, Dr Stephen R Covey noted: “The best way to predict your future is to create it”. We create our future by choosing wisely, and then by applying appropriate amounts of focus and subsequent energy and effort into the project.

What choices are you making in the space between the first and last five minutes of your life?

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