The Power of The Note

(In an earlier blog post, I had challenged myself to answer 20 Questions to Self… This post is my answer to question #1)

Q:  When was the last time that you did something for yourself that moved you to tears? (TWEET THIS)

A:  Last weekend in Newport Beach

I recently attended a workshop conducted by Bob Donnell from Next Level By Association.  During our time together, Bob shared the sad fact that his brother had committed suicide, after a long battle with debilitating pain.

And then Bob shared “The Note” with us.  His brother’s suicide note.

This is probably the worst kind of note that a person could ever read.

But imagine what it must be like to write one…

I had never read a “real” suicide note before. and I gotta say that it was truly heart-wrenching.  It was as if every word was infused with his pain, hopelessness, and grief.  We all sat there for awhile in the heaviness of those handwritten words, and then Bob says, “Take out a piece of paper.”

Little did I know that in just a few minutes, I would know what it really feels like to write a suicide note.  And I know it sounds kind of morbid and maybe even kinda “bad kharma-ish”, but stick with me for just a minute.

Bob asked us to spend some time writing our Note to a person that we love, as if we had decided to take our own life.  I chose to write my Note to my daughter, Savannah.  (Even as I type this post, my eyes are welling up as I recall my words and thoughts.)

In my letter, I poured out all of my regrets, my failures, my shortcomings, and a bunch of broken dreams.  The surreal finality of everything was overwhelming.  Line after line, I apologized, rationalized, blamed, and justified.  Finally, I signed it, “Love, Daddy”.

At that point I thought we’d finished the exercise, and then Bob says, “J, please read your Note to the group”.  (Gulp)

“No thank you”, I whispered.

“It’s not optional”, he says.

So I began.  It seemed like it took forever for me to get all of those words out, as I choked back fear, tears, and anger.  I was mad at Bob for making me do this, and I was mad at myself for allowing this exercise to affect me so deeply.  Guys are supposed to be tough.  Composed.  Bulletproof.

Yet here I was, in front of the group…heart-broken, embarrassed, and exposed.

Then Bob turned the tables, by having us clear our minds.  The fortunate truth is that this was an exercise, not reality.  He then had us write a different kind of Note.  The opposite of a suicide note.  This was our “I WANT TO LIVE” note.  It was literally like taking all of the pain from the first note, and turning it into pure joy by reversing the thoughts and feelings.

Here is a snapshot of my “I Want To Live” Note…

shoop_family Savannah – I’m writing this letter to you as a declaration of my commitment to live.  I am so excited to live this life with you and your Mom.  I am at peace with the man I am becoming and I’m energized for the future.  I finally figured out how to love your Mom in the way she deserved and needed to be loved.  My wish for you is that you adopt our example of growing together through life’s seasons.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m committed to becoming the best husband, father, and provider that I can be.  You are the greatest gift a father could ever ask for.  I’m stoked that I found the strength to stand up for myself, for you, and my marriage.  I love you and your Mom unconditionally.  I’m looking forward to our amazing future, in this life and beyond.  You are the sunrise of my day! Love, Daddy.

To cement the power of the exercise, we then ceremonially burned our suicide notes.

I wanna encourage you to consider taking part in this exercise.  The impact will be profound, if you will commit to going deep with yourself.

Because I want YOU to live…

ABOUT J. SHOOP – I’m J. Shoop, Author, Speaker, and Personal Coach.  I simplify achievement for entrepreneurs by aligning their outer results with their inner wisdom.  Let’s connect on Twitter: @jshoop or visit