Lessons Learned From A Canadian Icon

Lessons Learned From A Canadian Icon

In Chronicles of a CEO by Rebecca Liston

For my Canadian readers, this article will hit home perhaps a bit more closely than for those of you from farther afield, but I hope its relevance keeps you reading.

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with my thoughts about Gord Downie, famed Canadian musician and song-writer, and the news that he has terminal brain cancer.

And still he chose to go on tour this summer.

One last tour with the band, The Tragically Hip, (his “family” since 1983) to play old favourites alongside newly released material…one last opportunity for his fans to sing along, clap, and cheer…one last time to sing himself Home.

Bloody hell, I can’t even write about it without crying.

What must it be like for Gord to be on that stage? What is he thinking? What’s he feel when the encores are done and the lights go up, and everyone goes home?

And why am I, not a musician, not a song-writer, but a business coach, so deeply affected by it all?

It’s true that I’ve been listening to The Hip my entire adult life.

It’s true I’ve seen them in concert several times — small venues, large venues — I’ve done the “I am going to scream Gord’s name at the top of my lungs from stage right and hope he hears me” thing.

In this, I am not alone…millions of other Canadians have done the same. And I’m not even the Biggest Hip Fan Ever (not by a long shot) and STILL…

I ponder it.

I wonder what it’s like to know that “THIS note you sing will be your last.”

I wonder if he’s doing anything differently because he does know.

I wonder if I would do anything differently if I knew when my last note would be sung.

Would you?

Would you change your schedule so you could get home by 5 pm every night to make a “decent” dinner for you and your family?

Would you book next July off completely so you’d have an entire month of holiday bliss to recharge your batteries?

Would you arrange things so that you could hire that extra team member to support you so that you didn’t have to do those pesky tasks you hate so much even for one day more?

Would you even keep doing what you are doing now? Or would you embark on a new career path, living out a hidden dream in your final hours?

Last week I was rummaging through the basement and found an old Vision Board that I had created about four years ago. I pulled it out and gave it a long look-over.

Have I achieved everything that I set out to when I placed those images and words on that board?


Do I still want to complete those things?


So I hung that board back up again.

At the top of it is a quote I cut out from a magazine spread about Oprah’s final show:

“For the joy, the laughs, the lessons, the adventure of a lifetime…THANK YOU.”

And it struck me then, hard, as I read this over last week again:

THOSE are the words I want to say in my own final hour, when the lights go up, and everyone goes home, and I exit stage left…THOSE are the words I want on my lips.

Will those be the words on Gord’s lips? Will they be on yours?

I’m booking down next July — two weeks of holidays instead of one, no big projects on the go — because that’s one thing I would do if I knew my end was near.

I’m limiting my private client load to a decadently delicious number so I can serve in the way I love best: up close, personal, involved.

I’m going to start speaking more often again because I miss it…because being on stage lights me up.

I’m going to walk 5 km each day (instead of three one day and five the next) because my body craves it.

And I’m scheduling that retreat in Algonquin for my BFF and I this fall because, well, we’ve been talking about it for a year now and it’s time.

You see, it’s my greatest passion to make certain that the businesses my clients are building are in alignment with Who They Are…and making these seemingly small but oh-so-powerful changes to my own business and life will allow me to bring even more alignment into my own world. 

I hope you’ll be inspired to make a few changes to your own business and life, too. I can’t wait to hear all about it.



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Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients are entrepreneurs with CEO-mindsets and executives with entrepreneurial instincts. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit rebeccaliston.com to find out more.