My passion woke me up this morning about 3AM.

No alarm clock necessary!

As it’s Christmas morning, I tried to sleep-in a little… but my excitement got the best of me.

What got me so excited? (No, it wasn’t Santa.)

Now, I know it sounds cheesy… but I woke up, and I couldn’t go back to sleep, because… I was imagining all of my dreams coming true.

I was thinking about all of the people I get to work with (now, and in the future).

About all of the stuff that I’m most passionate about.

About all of the good times and incredible experiences that I am about to have with the people that I care about most… And, it got me out of bed which inevitably reminded me of the last present my grandfather ever gave me. Which, I’ll now share, for the first time ever…

Last year, just 23 days before his 92nd birthday, I actually lost my grandfather, Richard Edwin Crane, Jr.

Before he passed away, however, he sent me a letter, outlining his Top 10 Favorite Life Experiences.

In this letter, I discovered a pattern that seemed to me a “guide-book” to living in greatness every day.

One I’m feeling compelled to share now…

LESSON 1: Do things you are PASSIONATE about

This is the first pattern I recognized in his letter to me.

My grandpa’s best memories were always when he was doing something he loved: serving in the Navy, Horse Packing in the wildernesses, playing polo, hunting, fishing, etc.

Similarly, I noticed that “my” best memories also had this pattern… that they are filled with times I loved what I was doing.

Things that I was (or am) passionate about: special times with family, sports, being a scuba instructor in the Bahamas, leading my Adventure Tours company, etc.

Which got me asking myself these questions:

“How much of my time am I spending doing things that I’m passionate about?” and “How much of my time, am I spending doing things, I DON’T WANT TO BE DOING?”

In short, my answer, at the time… made me uncomfortable.

I knew that needed to change.

LESSON 2: Choose great PEOPLE to hang out with

You know, not ONCE in my grandpa’s letter to me, did he recount a time when he was hanging out with suckie-people, doing suckie-things!

He was always with his family, his friends, his teammates, people he LOVED… that seemed to MAGNIFY the experiences for him.

Again, as I read, and re-read this letter, it came to me, that my best memories were similar.

My favorite moments have always been with AWESOME people, doing AWESOME things.

Again, this got me asking myself, “How much of my time I am I spending with AWESOME people?” and “How much of my time, am I not?”

One of my friends, and one of my favorite people on the planet, Tony Robbins always says, “You become who you hang out with.”

What I realized when I first got my grandfather’s letter, and I was really HONEST with myself, was that I really NEEDED an upgrade in this area in my life.

What I realized, was that while I “knew” a bunch of awesome people… I wasn’t really “hanging out” with them.

I wasn’t spending my time with them. We weren’t pursuing the same passions together. We weren’t really close personal friends… not REALLY… I knew that this MUST change!

LESSON 3: PRESENCE is more important than Presents

Now, there are many lessons I learned from my grandfather.

Both in his letter, and from his life. But the one that stands out as most relevant this Christmas morning is that of PRESENCE.

In every magic moment my grandpa recounted, he was 100% in-the-moment.

He wasn’t wishing he was someplace else… He was alive in the moment.

In fact, I hallucinate, that just by “recalling” these memories and “sharing” them with me… he brought them back to life.

I know my wife appreciates my presence.
I know my daughter appreciates my presence.
I know my family appreciates my presence.
I know my friends appreciate my presence.
I know my clients appreciate my presence.

In fact, I know for a fact, that if I ever wander in my thoughts, or allow myself to get distracted, or to be pulled away by other “stuff”… that, my wife, my daughter, my family and friends… all feel a little shorted.

As if I don’t care…
…And it sucks the “awesome” out of our time together.

BUT, YOU KNOW WHAT’S GREAT?

After reading (and re-reading) my grandfather’s letter… I changed things.

Last year, I started focusing on: being more present. Focusing more on my passions, and hanging out with and becoming better friends with the Coolest, most Successful, most Awesome people I could find.

I made it a goal to become friends with my mentors…

Not long after that decision, I got to meet and hang out with Sir Richard Branson. In fact, he came and sat down next to me at the airport! CRAZY!

…..

Now, I doubt that my grandfather knew that his last letter to me would have such an impact on me. But it did.

I hope that, if you took the time to read this, it helps you as well.

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