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One Question to Discern What Truly Mattersmotivation: what really matters

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

At the end of every Live Inspired Podcast episode, I ask my special guest the “Live Inspired 7” questions. One of these questions is: Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?

This question quickly helps the guest to identify one item that really matters to him or her.

With guests from around the country and world, comprised of influential leaders, prodigious writers, renown celebrities and ordinary heroes, the answers inspire me. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Curt Steinhorst would grab a small, wooden longhorn bull. It sounds odd; until he shared that it was a gift he received on his 12th birthday. Hand-carved by his grandfather, it reminds him every day of his grandfather’s love and wisdom.
  • Christine Hassler said she’d grab the stuffed panda bear her father gave her on the day she was born because it reminds her of him, his unconditional love, and the innocence of that time. All of which are part of her today.
  • In his episode, Chris Hogan shared that he would run in and grab two things: a quilt that was given to him by his grandmother when he was 10 years old and his grandfather’s cane. These items remind him that where he has come from is not an accident, and where he’s going to isn’t an accident either.
  • Perhaps the seemingly most peculiar response came from Charlie Plumb who said he’d go in for a small, tin cup. Why? He spent 6 years as a POW during the Vietnam War and the only object that remained from this time was the simple cup he used to collect water, stay hydrated and remain alive.

(I thought of these and many other remarkable responses on my most recent Live Inspired podcast when Marcus Adrian, an architect and extraordinary thinker, shared that he’d run in to grab a quilt made by his grandmother and great-grandmother. Hear the profound reason why he chose the quilt, and our entire conversation, here.)

Collecting Lots of Stuff v. Enjoying Stuff That Actually Matters

So what does this have to do with you?

My friends, we spend a lifetime earning, climbing and collecting.

And yet, when we’re placed in a position to grab what actually matters, it isn’t the big stuff we seek out. We let the 60” flat screens televisions, expensive automobiles, flashy jewelry, and even the house itself, burn. What we want to save is the stuff of meaning; the items that attach us to our past and provide hope for our future.

Let this be a reminder: As you pursue excellence and climb the ladder, remember not to confuse collecting lots of stuff with enjoying the stuff that actually matters.

This is your day. Live Inspired.


This article was originally published on #1 National Bestselling Author of ON FIRE and Inspirational Speaker John O’Leary’s Monday Motivation blog. John inspires the R.L. Thomas Service, Inc. and we’re honored to share his inspiration with you! Get his Monday Motivation in your inbox here and enjoy his daily inspiration on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube.


You can see all of John’s Monday Motivation posts here:

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