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The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die Paperback – November 22, 2007
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John Izzo organized the book around 235 interviews with successful people as identified by friends, co-workers, and family. Success, in this context, means having lived a long life and discovering purpose and happiness.
We all know people who are either chronically bitter and have died that way.
A second factor that strongly appealed to me about the book was that most of the people the author chose to interview were over 60. As I approach my 65th birthday this year, I understand my nature better and have a feel for the age spans I have traversed.
The author believes that “wisdom” exists. He measures it by the “fruit” of one’s relationships with others. He defines wisdom point blank as "the capacity to discern what really matters and to incorporate it into your life."
People are free to do whatever they want in their lives, but not everything bears edible and sustainable fruit. I applaud the author for attempting to identify the meaningful--even though this is grueling and imprecise. Some things in life are messy and require struggle.
The secrets are as widely known as the miracles of old:
1. Be true to yourself.
2. Leave no regrets.
3. Become Love.
4. Live the Moment.
5. Give more than you take.
So what’s the big deal with this book and why am I on my third reading of it?
We learn in three different ways.
The most painful being experience—some things you don’t want to experience.
The second way to learn is imitation—but few of us have all the role models needed for every experience.
The third is by reflection. Reflection is what John gives us in spades with quality interviews and edifying stories from his interviewees.
For stories to affect us and allow us to benefit, they have to resonate true and touch us on a personal level.
John, also, summarizes the lessons learned by truly reflective questions that bear application. The questions reinforce principals illustrated and give us something with which to experiment and innovate.
But, there’s more!
There are two additional bonuses beyond the initial chapters on the secrets. The first is a chapter in which he summarizes what he and his staff learned from the experiences. The second bonus is when he allows selective interviewees to summarize their aspirations and philosophy of life in one sentence. (John cheated with some of them---letting them have two or three sentences to summarize their life’s philosophy. John’s not perfect either!)
As a “Baby-Boomer/Medicare-coming-of-age” type, this last quote buoys me with the hope of more life to come.
I’m on my third reading of the book. Additionally, I have purchased a Kindle version for the purpose of highlighting meaningful passages and quotes.
I consider it one of three books I would want on a desert island.
My lovely and oh so witty wife and copy-editor added that the other two books would be “How to live on a Desert Island” and “How to Get Off a Desert Island.” ;-)
Ask yourself the questions this book provides. Make sure you are achieving your life's mission. God Bless John Izzo for this great work.
1. Why do some people find meaning & die happy
2. Why I talked to the town barber (and 200 other people over 60) about life
3. The first secret: be true to your self
4. The second secret: leave no regrets
5. The third secret: become love
6. The fourth secret: live the moment
7. The fifth secret: give more than you take
8. When you know you have to go (putting secrets into practice)
9. Preparing to die well: happy people are not afraid to die
10.A final lesson: it's never too late to live the secrets
Epilogue: How this book changed me
The author writes in conversational tone and supported his secrets with colorful anecdotes and personal reflections. For example, in the second secret (leave no regrets) Izzo states that in "his experience from the last 30 years, validated in these interviews, death is not what we fear the most. When we have lived life fully and done what we hoped to do, we can accept death with grace. What we fear most is not having lived to the fullest extent possible, to come to the end of our life with our final words being `I wish I had.'...to leave no regrets we must live with courage, moving toward what we want rather than away from what we fear."
While the 5 secrets aren't a surprise to many, there are many powerful insights in this book that leave you thinking. And while it's one thing to know the secrets, it's an entirely different (and more difficult) matter to put them into action.
If you enjoyed this book, pick up John's Izzo other gem - Second Innocence.