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Mike Hughes Blogs Life’s Lessons Through Terminal Cancer


This past January, ad exec, Mike Hughes was told he had two weeks to live. After a decade long battle with cancer, he began writing “Unfinished Thinking”, heartbreaking yet inspiring lessons that oftentimes only those facing their own mortalities can so bravely identify.

Through his blog and his thoughts, we are granted access into some of life’s most valuable lessons. Here are a few interpretations of our favorites.

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Get Rid of the To Do Lists

“It’s amazing how freeing being given a limited time frame can be. Everything on my “things to do today lists” is vanquished forever. … Thank God I never saddled myself with a bucket list. Those lists are guilt-magnets. And now, poof… Gone forever. Good riddance.”

Love the People You Work With

“We’ll do better work and we’ll do it more enthusiastically if we do it with friends.”

Have Few Regrets

“As you approach your final days, it’s incumbent on you to review your regrets. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the rules.”

“Regrets? Well, as the song says, “A few. But then again, too few to mention.”

Short Term Success = Long Term Happiness

“For long-term happiness, enable short-term successes. We work in advertising. We expect to see the fruits of our labor out in the real world within a few months, weeks or days of their creation. If we had patience, we’d be architects. No matter how successful he or she has been, every person with a long career in this business has gone through painful stretches of a year or more in which nothing was produced. … Creative companies need the room to fail occasionally, but failure is exhausting and debilitating when it’s not buffered by successes.”

Keep a Sense of Humor

“How are you doing?” That’s the first question many people ask when they see me. They tell me how good I look, and then they ask, “How are you doing?” It’s a nice question to ask, but it’s a little tricky to answer. If I know someone has a great sense of humor, I might say, “Well, I’m dying.” But usually what I say is that for the condition I’m in, I’m doing pretty well. I mean that both physically and psychologically.”

Of the many life lessons that Mike Hughes has shared, one of the most poignant may be to understand that you may not recognize your legacy, and that’s okay. “I get a little uneasy thinking about legacies. George Washington had a legacy. Martin Luther King had a legacy.  I’m just an advertising guy …” 

With the outpouring of support, celebration and love from family and friends and many who don’t even know him, it’s clear that his legacy may be far greater than he could have ever imagined. 

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Christina Majaski
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