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The Happiest Four Hours of My Life – And I Was Fully Dressed

Work had been hectic. Then to the Cannes Creativity Festival. Packed days. Then holiday. Paris. Museums. Galleries. Sites. To Rome. Ditto. Rush. Rush. Then dashed across town to catch the train to Florence. And that is when it happened… the screw up that thrilled my very being. And a genuine lesson for a happier life. Here it is.

John Studdert is one of the world’s great guys. I worked with him for 12 years, during his time leading the company he founded- with David Sawicki- Impact Employee Communications, and then when he succeeded me as the Chief Executive of Ogilvy PR Australia.

In fact, John just retired from his Ogilvy career, and is taking time out before his next chapter. I tell you about him not because of his fine career and values, but because of a saying he told me, told to him by his grandmother. It summed up what happened to me in Rome. She told him this:

My Challenge To You: Your Life In Six Words-Up for It?

If you get value from Wrestling Possums, then I ask you to do me one favor: reply to this post. Inundate me with responses. What I want you to do though is a bit freaky. Be warned. It might confront you. I want you to imagine that you will die in ten minutes time. Here’s why.

Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a book, but only in six words. He did it. “For sale: baby shoes; never worn.” That’s the power of storytelling. This apparently led a couple of guys who founded Smith Magazine to develop the ‘Six Word Memoir’ concept…writing your memoirs in just six words.

So, imagine you’ll expire (sorry about that) in 10 minutes time,. You pick up a pen to write your life story, your memoirs. But you only have six words to do it in. Give it a go. If you feel inclined, respond on the link at the end and share it. I’ll tell you mine. You tell me yours. Deal? Here’s mine.

What Happened This Week When They Found A Tumor In My Throat

“Yip- it looks like a cancer,” the specialist sighed, pointing to the video picture of the tumor growing out of my vocal chords.

“Treatable?” I asked, petrified. “Oh yes,” he replied. “But not necessarily curable.” This was last Monday. So began the worst week of my life. Here’s what happened next.

My voice had been getting increasingly hoarse for months. “Acid reflux caused by increasing size of your gut,” the GP had counseled. Then I struggled swallowing. And could only speak in a whisper. So to the specialist I went last Monday. He had the bedside manner of a cobra, found a tumor, speculated cancer, gave zero reassurance.

“I’ll remove it surgically if I can on Wednesday. Then pathology. If cancer, come to the hospital next Tuesday and we’ll advice treatment. If it’s early stage cancer, then likely more surgery and radiation. If spread, then chemotherapy too and a 50/50 survival chance. If spread a lot, then not much we can do.” And that was it. I walked out into the sunlight devastated. So began the five worst days of my life… days underpinned by one terrible thing: