Why I Hope to Die Empty

This is a guest post by Todd Henry, founder of Accidental Creative. His company helps creative people and teams generate brilliant ideas. He is also the author of the book The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Several years ago I went through a fairly significant examination of life, work, family, art and where it all was headed. I had just ended a pretty intense season in which I found myself spread thin and a little over-extended, and I knew that I couldn’t sustain the pace indefinitely. Still, it was a critical juncture in my life and career. I was looking for some insight on how to stay engaged and keep moving forward.

During that season, I was in a meeting in which a South African friend asked, “Do you know what the most valuable land in the world is?” The rest of us were thinking, “Well, probably the diamond mines of Africa, or maybe the oil fields of the middle east?”

“No,” our friend replied, “it’s the graveyard, because with all of those people are buried unfulfilled dreams, unwritten novels, masterpieces not created, businesses not started, relationships not reconciled. THAT is the most valuable land in the world.”

Then a little phrase popped into my head in such a way that it felt almost like a mandate. The phrase was “die empty.” While it may sound intimidating, it was actually very freeing because I was suddenly aware that it’s not my job to control the path of my career or what impact I may or may not have on the world. My only job—each and every day—is to empty myself, to do my daily work, and to try as much as possible to leave nothing unspoken, uncreated, unwritten.

I made a commitment that if any given day were my last I wanted to die empty, having completely divested myself of whatever insight or work was in me to share on that day. As I began to apply this principle to relationships, art and work, I felt a measure of peace even in the midst of busy times. Once I realized that I only have influence over the work that’s in front of me, I stopped trying to control things that were beyond my grasp.

I still have long-term goals, and I think they’re essential. (I just checked one off my list by publishing my first book!) But long-term goals can become paralyzing if we fail to realize that we accomplish them one day at a time, or more precisely one decision at a time, as we choose to engage in the work in front of us. Novels, businesses, and masterpieces are nothing more than a collection of choices someone made to empty themselves each and every day. The creative process is a daily assault on the beachhead of apathy.

I’ve noticed a pattern with creative and productive people that if we neglect our ideas for too long, a divide can emerge between what we think we should be doing and what we’re actually doing. This creates an angst, or a perpetual state of discontent that prevents us from being able to fully engage with our priorities. We may get bored, frustrated, or assume a victim mindset as we look for excuses for why we’re not doing our best work. It’s much easier to fantasize about what we might do someday rather than to get it out today, be it good, bad or ugly.

To that end, one method for emptying yourself, especially if your day job can’t contain all of your ideas, is to set regular time to create things for the sheer joy of it. I call this “unnecessary creating” because it gives you permission to express ideas that don’t neatly fit into your daily create-on-demand work. If you leave this unrealized work inside it can eventually cause you to resent your day-to-day work, and over time it can eat away at your soul.

What do you need to empty yourself of today? Is there a project that you’ve been waiting to begin that seems too daunting? Take a small step today to get the ball rolling. Is there a conversation that you need to have, but have been waiting for the perfect time? Pick up the phone. Is there an idea that you want to execute but there’s no room for it in your create-on-demand role? When you get home tonight, get moving on it.

Life is very short. The question is, will you die full of unexecuted ideas or will you die empty? It’s your choice.

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  • http://foreignperspective.wordpress.com/ Jake Olson

    I honestly hope that I’ll die with my best ideas having been tried out at least, and with a good batch of them having been executed.  I don’t actually hope to “Die Empty” though, because that’d probablly mean I’d stopped dreaming.

    • Anonymous

      I like your observation.  Yeah, I kinda hope that on my last day, I have a lengthy list of goals and dreams.

    • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

      I want to die empty of regret and full of memories…

      Geoff Talbot
      Seven Sentences

  • @words4faithpeep

    Crash! I just felt a collision at the intersection of this intro to Todd’s manifesto and a hole in my soul. Should I need more inspiration to continue leading in the church’s Online Campus Ministry and the personal plan for teaching and coaching in the second half, I think I just found a likely source. Gonna’ follow this dude.

  • S4swihart

    Ive been putting off working towards a goal of getting my own medical team together to go to Haiti. I’ve been 4 times before, but this time I feel led to head onto the mountains and see people who can’t make it to the towns for care. I’m gonna start today! Thanks for the kick in the butt!

    • http://www.lakaygroup.com ProfessorZedd

      I am from Haiti and some of my friends go yearly to help. Let me know how I can help.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal


  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    What an intriguing idea! Die Empty! It is exactly what Jesus did! He poured himself out TOTALLY for you and me. I’ve just never thought of it that way. What I need to do is starting writing on my next Bible study. Great, great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Today: I’ll be investing in my family, catch up some on some housework, and will proof read a book proposal. I’m very much looking forward to this book. I suspect it’s filled with truths we’re afraid to remember. 

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    Todd, great post. This idea is ESPECIALLY poignant for writers (how much more, bloggers!) since we’re always tempted to generate some “warm up work” so that we don’t run out of ideas. We think that we had better adopt a marathon pace. But it’s just the opposite: we must be prodigal writers, giving it all we’ve got, every single post.

    I’m going to go write like this is my last post. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Fantastic, Bret! Go for it!

    • http://swipeouthunger.com Caleb McNary

      Love it, Bret, I’m excited to read more from you

      • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

        Thanks Caleb! I think I’m going to aim to post 5 days a week—no time like the present, right? Just finished today’s post:

        Is your ministry website attractional or missional?


  • Amy

    I will share the Source of my hope and contentment with a long-time friend over lunch. She is searching for these things in people and work and coming up empty.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Amy, I pray things will go well with the talk. May she be open and ready to receive. But also remember, if she does not receive it today, you’ve planted the seed and as sowers we may never see the fruit of our work.

    • Jmhardy97

      Good luck amy with your lunch meeting.


  • Martindwylie

    South African friends are pretty smart!

  • http://www.susiefinkbeiner.wordpress.com Susie Finkbeiner

    Sometimes I get so busy trying to live fully, that I’m fully exhausted and unable to give of myself. I’m trying to live more simply so that I’m able to empty myself into the lives of my kids, into my relationship with my husband and into doing that for which God created me. Often that requires that I thin out my activities. And I have to say ‘no’ more than before. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kay.shostak Kay Dew Shostak

    Great thoughts this morning and perfect for me. My literary agent quit this week due to family circumstances. I immediately once again felt the burden of being published fall squarely on my lonely shoulders. This helped me realize my true need, my true duty – write. Thanks much – also, I don’t think your twitter link is working correctly. It didn’t leave anything to click on in my tweet.

  • http://twitter.com/stacey29lincoln Stacey29lincoln

    I’m a stay at home mom and every day I feel empty – poured out.  But I love this idea of creating and setting aside time to empty myself of an idea that I have long wanted to pursue.  As a mom, if I don’t find time for this, it will literally be 20 years before I can.  So a little time each day to write, blog, and connect with other women helps to ignite a passion in me that actually serves my family, too.

    Great post!

    • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

      I’d encourage you to find time to journal these ideas, devotions, thoughts, and observations. I’m at the 20 years later season in my life, and I find journals I kept when my 4 children were small are a gold mine in more ways than one. The passion in you can simmer and boil for years.

    • Jmhardy97

      John maxwell calls this thinking time and I agree with you that clearing your mind is key to having successful thoughts.


  • http://faith-gracenotes.blogspot.com Carol Swan

    Making a difference today?  I am going to re-connect with a friend and pitch out an idea for writing.  I need the outside accountability of deadlines and I am going to ask my friend to serve as my editor in writing a Bible study.  I then plan to submit that study as part of a resume/proposal for a formal role within the adult studies council of my church or a neighbor church.  It’s part of an intentional move back into the workforce after a decade of focusing on family.

  • AJ Silvers

    Wow, great post and a very challenging idea :) 

    Having recently come out of a bad burnout (too much work and too much of that ‘busy work’) I made plan that I would get my release my ideas in a Seth Godin style…but that plan has remained in my journal for a few days now…So today I am going to set up a brand new blog specifically with the purpose of sharing my ideas about developing and leveraging a positive mindset. By the end of next week I’ll have created a PDF manifesto to give away and start getting the ideas out there for all to share.
    Thanks for the unique perspective Todd :-)

  • Scott Wilson

    I could not agree more the gospel is all about today the only way to live life is understanding this daily commitment to living life with Christ. Our horizon is life not death so we can slow down and notice all aspect of our day.

  • http://twitter.com/SteveBrowning SteveBrowning

    As a dreamer that rarely gets around to doing, this post is a wake-up call!  Thanks for the the motivation Todd!  NOW is the time to get my ideas out and in motion “be it good, bad, or ugly.”  Commit to “Die Empty”!

  • Mcfitzie

    I am going to play a game with my kids.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      That makes me smile. :) Yes, it’s not just about “making stuff” it’s about full, head-on engagement with life, loving others, and not squandering the time and relationships we have. Sometimes dying empty for me looks like sitting on a hammock with one of my kids and watching the sunset. I love this reminder. 

  • Mike Buenaventura

    I always look forward to your blogs.  This blog has reminded me that life is short.  There are some apologies that I owe and a particular person that comes to my mind is my ex-wife.  Regardless of what happened and why our I marriage ended, I have never apologized or began the reconcile process.  Though I believe I have moved on, I have never forgiven her…..nor have I asked for forgiveness.  June is the anniversary month of the beginning of the end of our marriage.  It was a very difficult month.  Today is July 1st, what perfect timing that I am reminded to die empty.

  • thorsgal

    I now realize I have been hiding and doing things that keep me flying under the radar. I need to start speaking up and actually doing instead of going over it in my mind, over and over again. Action is far better than inaction, but it never seemed “right” for me. So I’ve been miserable. Like Stacey29lincoln, I’m a stay at home mom. I do feel exhausted by the end of the day, mentally and physically. Time to start ACTING and doing for me, because I know it will make things better for my family as a whole. 

  • Anonymous

    Todd, this post resonates with me! Last night I finished another round of self-editing on my first novel. I’m also preparing for a critique of the first 25 pages in an upcoming meeting with my Novel-In-Progress group.

    Today I will begin to distribute copies to anyone ready & willing to read it. I’m overcoming all of the internal voices that tend to hold me back. No, the novel’s not perfect. But YES! It’s thrilling for me, and it’s so rewarding to pursue a dream. You’ve absolutely nailed where I’ve been and paint a vision of how I hope to live going forward. Thank you!

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Fantastic! Congrats on taking on such a daunting project as a novel. Yes – that’s exactly what it felt like when I was circulating early copies of the manuscript of The Accidental Creative. It’s difficult to put something “out there” and know that it’s being read, and not know how it’s being received. I’ve tried to remind myself to find satisfaction in the process itself, not just in the results or in how others respond. I’m learning (more and more) to be grateful for the creative act, not just for the end product. Best wishes on your novel!

      • Jmhardy97

        It was creative and provides a great message.


  • http://twitter.com/jimthemethodist Jim Morrow

    Today I am finishing a sermon that is aimed at helping people live into and respond to the freedom they have in Christ.  I will also be visiting and praying with many different people.

  • http://seekthecity.wordpress.com Chad M. Smith

    I love this word picture. It reminds me that I am merely a steward, like an estate administer. My responsibility is to make sure I give everything out. It is a sober picture to think of all the ideas, laughs, and inspiration that disappears once a person passess away. 

    Thanks Todd! I hope the book is a downright success!

  • Andrea

    What a beautiful encouragement to stop being intimidated by the overwhelming number hopes and dreams in our hearts! Today, I will make a difference by fully engaging with my husband and family and creating a “together experience” that will remind them that they are incredibly valuable and they have a unique role to play here and now, where God has placed them.

  • Josh Froman

    I have been struggling with this very debacle, and the more I struggle the more I realize that great artists don’t sit around and dream about their masterpieces, it’s time for no more empty canvases time to get of the bench and into the game. Ready. Set. Create.

    • Jmhardy97


      have a clean slate is the key, put time aside to clear your mind and let the thoughts come to you. Make sure that you are in a place where your mind is clear and can relax. For every person, this place is different.


  • Eric Clark

    Man, that post hit me at the core! Recently I had to make a similar decision, and let go of some thngs that were holding me back. Over the past few years I have found myself to be accidentally creative . I started my career as an 8th grade math teacher, and today at the at the age of 26 I start a director role at a small Christian college. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, I will be sure to read more of your writing. I have a lot of growing left to do!

  • Kenny

    I pray that I too “die empty” each day, giving away of myself to others and for the better good that life has to offer.  As a reader I would enjoy being challenged by this book “Accidential Creative”

  • http://twitter.com/musiqchild007 Jherrel Peters

    I’m 21 and at my age you see so many young men and women like myself with extraordinary potential to do great things for the world and in extension the Kingdom, but they’re limited not because of their insufficiencies or handicaps but because of one thing and that is relationships. The success and failures of a person’s life all falls within that one word. 

    I haven’t yet reached that place where I can finally say I’m a “success” but I’m confident that I’m well on my way there. I plan to write a series of books (I’ve already started on my chapters) that would help not only Christians but everyone for that matter, discern the company that is right for them to propel them into purpose. I’ve started by guest-writing on some ministry blogs and I’ve received awesome feedback and I’m currently writing more for them.

    I truly believe that I’m capable of changing my generation through my writing (and public speaking/ministering), I’m not saying this to sound politically correct but I’m of the firm belief that God placed that seed of greatness inside of everyone, including me. All we have to do is get the right materials and relationships to cultivate it. Hence the reason why I’m currently looking for any resources that can aid me to accomplish this feat. I certainly believe that this book would be of great use to facilitate that goal. 

    Today, I use social media Facebook, twitter and YouTube to get my messages across and I constantly get great feedback on my quotes, tips and principles (all Scriptural sound) and every week I try to take a step further week by week. 

    I’d greatly appreciate it if you would select me to receive this book.

    God Bless!

    • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

      Good to see a fellow 21 year old hanging around Michael Hyatt’s blog! Keep up the work!

  • Amanda Bennett

    Thanks for capturing what I’ve been feeling for some time – that the ideas on the inside of my head need to see the light of day ASAP. Thanks for sharing, Todd – and your book sounds terrific!

  • Anonymous

    Wow I think this post is going to have a profound impact on my life. Die empty. Two powerful words.

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    Great, inspring post.  Ironically while reading this post, I was watching Canadian Governor General David Johnston issue the Order of Canada awards to Canadians that have given of themselves, for the benefit of others.

    Part of dying empty is using your God given talents and gifts to bless others. 

    On days where I’m completely wiped out, I know that I lived that day well.  

    Blessings on your weekend and Happy Independence Day Weekend!

  • Jamie Chavez

    Today I’ll do what I do most days as an editor: concentrate exclusively on the manuscript in front of me (I’m in the 2nd pass of this project). But editing is creative work, so this afternoon I’ll be taking a break to get a massage, which is one of the ways I refill my creative reservoir. And that’s vital to being “brilliant” (or at least good) at what one does. Great post!

  • Amy L Harden

    Wow! Wow! Wow! At mid-life I have been struggling with getting down to the creating…allowing the mundane tasks of life, caretaking and maintenance of having a family of five get in the way of “emptying myself” creatively every day. I avoid it, fear that I will never get to it or be prevented from finishing it. I have two self-help books started, three novels in various stages and painting projects of various kinds waiting to be created or finished! NOPE not any more….I am going to post “die empty” everywhere and ACT on it! I MUST read Todd’s book!

    This article alone has forever
    changed me! Thank you!

    Amy L Harden

  • http://profiles.google.com/happypostalvan Raymond Schwedhelm

    A life poured out in God’s service is an acceptable drink offering to Our Creator.

    The outpouring of grace is refreshing to the spirit.

    Today on my agenda is to love my Father in Heaven with all of my heart, mind and soul. In so doing, I desire to embrace my family and demonstrate His gracious character within my home. Through His peace and strength I will strive to make a meaningful contribution to enhance the well-being of all I meet and greet throughout the day.

    Later, hoping to be on empty this evening,  I will rest in fellowship with Him to be refilled and refreshed for tomorrow.

  • Mike St Pierre

    Big fan of Accidental Creative- glad to see him posting for MH

  • Jesse bryan

    Man what a challange!  Not only in my work but also as a dad and a husband.  My kids are all the time pretending and dreaming and I watch them wishing I had that freedom to just let my mind run away with what I could do.  In reality, I do!  I just have to start allowing myself the opportunity to be creative within my normal routine. 

  • John Alexander

    Wow. What an inspiring post! I hope to start writing a few free PDFs I’ve been dreaming of writing (short books). And I was planning on doing it today. Now, after reading this post, I’m going to do it today!

    • http://www.touchtheskye.org Chris MacKinnon

      I’ve started to do this recently. Some ideas just aren’t going to fit in a traditional print setting. Not only am I getting ideas out of my head, but it gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      That’s a great idea, John! I started spreading the ideas that became The Accidental Creative by distributing them as podcasts. It’s an easy way to get ideas “out there” and start spreading them. (It was also Seth Godin’s #1 advice to new writers in his interview with Michael yesterday!)

    • Joe Lalonde

      Go for it John.

  • http://www.touchtheskye.org Chris MacKinnon

    Wow. Thanks for the challenge, Todd. I was hooked with the “graveyard” comment. 

    I’m 10 months into my first pastorate and only now feeling settled into a routine. The problem is that routine can be crazy one week and slow the next. So in an effort to help other local churches I am now fixing computers, making logos, building websites and dreaming about the future with other pastors. I’ve scheduled in one morning each and every week. I thought it would mess with my schedule, but we feel encouraged and motivated, and I feel like I’m getting more done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Ward/1259937566 Dan Ward

    Like so many I find myself leaving good ideas for a time when things are not so hectic. My goal is to allow those to come out now, before it’s too late.

  • http://twitter.com/kprichardson84 Kent Richardson

    I’m going to start learning Spanish so I can communicate better with my students and community.

  • http://twitter.com/promobrain Mike Freestone

    Great concept and so true.  Every second that ticks by is gone forever, don’t waste a moment that you are given…because it is a gift!

  • Dick

    Today I will be meeting with my two college age sons and encouraging them to ‘go for it’.  Dye empty.

  • Richard Wanjema

    This post is great and speaks to the creative mind. As a creative I also struggle with being creative all the time. I also heard about ‘the most valuable land’ about 15 years ago from Dr. Myles Monroe of Bahamas Faith Ministries International and it still resonates with me today.
    It would be nice to read your insights on this topic also, I am sure it is insightful and engaging just like you promo video. Good stuff Todd!

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    I guess since I’m going to die, I definitely want to “die empty”. Love that idea. Makes me think of a quote I came across yesterday.

    “The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” ~

    We get so programmed on autopilot, we sometimes confuse activity with actually doing something that makes a difference.

    Going to start labeling my priority list a “MAD List”.
    “Making A Difference List”

    That way I know the things I’m working on are those things that are making a difference. I’ll write my lists with that thought in mind. That will ensure that the less important duties of the day find their way on the timeline.

    I think we’d all rather work on things that will help make a difference than we would just drudging through the day.

    Making a difference doesn’t have to be something HUGE and media worthy. There are tons of people who need help (especially today) that can make it on my MAD List. It may not make it to a spot on the evening news. But it will definitely land on a spot in someone’s heart.

    Thanks for this post.

    I felt it.


    Twitter: @WMarkThompson:twitter

  • David Price

    One of the most challenging and inspiring posts I’ve read in a while. Thanks so much for sharing.  It’s time to start pouring!

  • http://www.love-laugh-learn.com Deanna

    Wonderful post!! 

    To make a difference today, I’m going agree with you –  that my ideas are worthy of being  poured out.  Most times, I overflow with ideas, but I rarely give them the weight they deserve. 
    I’ve experienced the discontentment of not pouring them out, but I didn’t understand it.  
    Ahh, to just rest and be pleased in how God created me..   :)

  • Martigraham48

    I’m going to start by tackling the laundry basket sitting in the guest room . It has been there for weeks and by beginning with something so simple, it will enable me to go to the sewing table and clean that off; then this will lead to the mess of GoodWill clothes on the floor to get out of my house, and then that will lead to me actually noticing the floor,  which it will be time to vacume it! All of the above are actual metaphors for the clogged up deeper messes in my soul which have plagued me for several years.  My ideas sit, ironed, but not put away where they can do the most good; my sewing table is my creative side that actually has not been used for years because there is so much clutter hiding it. The GoodWill clothes on the floor is the simple fact of too many extras taking up your time to keep you from seeing what’s underneath, the canvas, so to speak, so that for once, you can start clean, without incumbrances, those valuable strokes of inspiration
    that will be good, even if just for you.

  • Jimfitz2

    It’s been said that many people die with their music  still inside them.  What  a tragedy!  I want to be creative, work in creative environments, and lead others on the same journey.  Getting there, in today’s world, can be very difficult.  We all need help in releasing our “creative juices” and this seems just the ticket!  Be creative, think and don’t stop dreaming!

  • Val Gungor

    Great points. I am going to write the outline for a new health edutainment game after work this evening that will help people achieve and maintain work-life balance.

  • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

    Today, I will be preparing for a Bible study for young adults showing that life has purpose as it is found in God.  I will also be preparing music for worshipping God on Sunday.

    As I go through my day, I will write down creative thoughts I have for blog posts and songwriting.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • http://thepastorworeplaid.blogspot.com bruce crews

    I’m currently  in a season of planning, evaluating, and jumping.  Part of that was prompted by Hyatt’s “Creating a Life Plan”, part of it was listening to what God has been saying for some time now.  Timely post for me, Todd – thanks so much for the encouragement to press on towards my dreams!

  • Grandmavp

    Such powerful insights! I am pouring out my soul in the hopes of helping others who have suffered deeply in this life. (I’m working on an e-book to offer on a website I’m building: http://www.living-with-broken-dreams.com.)
    There’s something very intimidating in the act of sharing your life with the world. A lot of it is very painful. I’m reliving some very difficult parts of my life as part of this process, but  also trying to ignore that nagging little voice saying, “No one will care.”
    Thanks, Todd, for encouraging me in going ahead. I will empty myself of this, and use it as a springboard for discussion and more writing projects. With God’s blessing, others will find it useful.
    Regardless of how God might use it, I’ve at least been obedient to the calling I feel on my life, and will empty myself of what I know, rather than take it to my grave.
    A curious aside: since determining to be creative in this way, other creative outlets I’ve buried for years are seeing the light of day again!

  • http://twitter.com/jeremydcobb Jeremy Cobb

    “I’ve noticed a pattern with creative and productive people that if we
    neglect our ideas for too long, a divide can emerge between what we
    think we should be doing and what we’re actually doing.”

    This is a great phrase, and very true for me…I think too long sometimes without taking the next action step (or identifying the next step).  WOW.

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post!

  • http://twitter.com/DavidHolford David Holford

    You’ve written what I needed to read today. Having just spent a year out of work, I always intended to use the time creatively to write my novel and write more music. I let perfectionism and writer’s block stop me in the first act of the novel and I only produced a handful of songs. I lost so many oppotunities to empty myself. 

    Now that I am starting a business and coming into a ministry position at the same time, I need lots of different kinds of creativity flowing simultaneously. The challenge will be even greater. I want to live up to that challege.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidHolford David Holford

    You’ve written what I needed to read today. Having just spent a year out of work, I always intended to use the time creatively to write my novel and write more music. I let perfectionism and writer’s block stop me in the first act of the novel and I only produced a handful of songs. I lost so many oppotunities to empty myself. 

    Now that I am starting a business and coming into a ministry position at the same time, I need lots of different kinds of creativity flowing simultaneously. The challenge will be even greater. I want to live up to that challege.

  • John Gallagher

    I just texted an acquaintance of mine to do my first real song co-write session ever!  Excited and very nervous!

  • http://twitter.com/duffbert Thomas Duff

    A definite call-to-action for me as I start the 2nd half of my life and strive to make things different.  My mantra has become “Don’t say no… try it.”  Die Empty is another apt way to put it…

  • http://www.facebook.com/darrentyler Darren Tyler

    I’m reminded of Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 4.. “for my life has already been poured out like a drink offering”.   He left empty.  The drink offering in the OT was a celebratory offering.. with wine not blood.   Thanks for these powerful words Mike.  GREAT way to start my day and words that will stay with me for hopefully every day 

  • Anonymous

    Baby steps.  Today, I will once again choose baby steps.  Toward the creative idea that I carry in my heart.  Blogging daily is the one baby step I take each day.  But also reading and interacting with others who are on the creative path.

    I love the concept of emptying myself daily.

    Sometimes even that can seem daunting when there are two little girls ages 3.5 and 1.5 and a household full of things to do.  But I try to make the most of moments to pray, to dream and to write.

    Thank you for this amazingly inspirational post.  Already shared it with my husband, but am off to tweet it so that others may be inspired.


  • http://www.facebook.com/momofkings Dawn Michelle King

    Wow. This post leaves me breathless and teary-eyed. I have such big dreams and I have not done much on them because I’ve been letting the urgent crowd them out. Todd, you explain that angst I feel so well! I”m printing this post out and putting it up on my pod wall to refer to often. This is a life-changing concept for me. 

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Wonderful, Dawn! All you can do is what’s in front of you today. Don’t let the weight of what’s undone weigh you down. Best wishes!

  • Akindele

    I’m sometimes overwhelmed with a lot of projects and ideas to execute within limited time frame and I often wonder wheither I’m within God’s plan for my life.
    Sometimes I am, but sometimes not, unfortunately.

    However,  hope to die empty and fulfilled someday, getting executed all the plans of God for my life

  • Jviola79

    What a great post! I started a women’s ministry at my church just 2 months ago. I found this post encouraging me not to give up, to keep investing myself into the lives of the women, one month at a time. It is harder to get something up & going as opposed to stepping into something already organized, which I have done before. Thank you for making me step back & think about the fact that God is wanting to use my ideas & not that I always go on the ideas of others. This morning I feel like this post affirmed my creative side & I needed that. Thank you!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidBGould David Gould

    I want to make a difference – as a  social worker.  I am on track to finishing my degree and doing my final placement this year.  I want to make a difference in my family life, and with the care that I show to my wife who has a major illness.  I want to make a difference in bringing my parish church back to life, to nurture its growth and outreach. But what I need to do to contribute to all this is organise my home office and that starts now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=661350994 Kris ‘Kroll’ Wood

    Today, I’m investing in volunteers and interns for their benefit and not for the “use” of my organization. We are building a team based in relationship and serve together for the good of those who attend our events and not for our convenience.  We are aware we’re living “the good ol’ days” now and intentionally invest hope, encouragement and truth with whom all we cross paths.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    I’ll die empty! At least I hope too. I think I’ve done my best so far, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidBGould David Gould

    I’ve started a book on men and surviving sexual trauma, and want to get that finished.  I am 6 months off finishing my social work degree, to value add working with vulnerable and homeless Tasmanians.  Tidying my home office – now and a good weekend in the garden (apart from church on Sunday) will do me more good right now than anything else. Most of all with my wife really unwell, caring for her is the biggest right now agenda item for me.

  • Anonymous

    As of yesterday, nothing.

    Today will be different. I will commit those goals to paper and will start putting together the resources to do what needs done in this community. We’re in a rural area where education is weak and dreams are weaker, so we have the family and societal issues that come with the dreariness and hopelessness. There are several ideas I’ve had about trying to help, but haven’t done any for fear of picking the wrong one. So, it’s time to do one and see if it works.

  • Melanye Wrighton

    Today I long to love my lifelong friend boldly, fearless and willing to pay the cost ~ whatever it may be ~  disrupting her with truth and calling her to life.

  • Al Pittampalli

    Great post, Todd. The only thing scarier than death, is death before you’ve had a chance to make an impact. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • http://www.Kimmunicator.com Kimagine320

    My position at an assisted living was eliminated March 1st….but July 9th I leave on a trip to Romania to serve 65 formerly homeless elderly who now live in makeshift nursing homes!

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidBGould David Gould

    Life is so full of missed opportunities. I chose social work because I didn’t want to spend my life in the for profit hotel game. I started a book years ago on male survivors of trauma and didn’t get very far, and for me that is a project, of legacy for my life. When I look in my heart and soul, my family need far more from me and I am very aware of the sands of time passing, the judgment of God waiting.  There are no prizes in heaven for not having a go!

  • http://www.watersedgegathering.com Adam Parker

    Man, what a great question! I have really been struggling with this myself.  I am very happy with my life, family, church, and job situation but I do feel like I’m getting stretched thinner and thinner.  Prioritization is becoming a challenge!

    Something I am really doing TODAY is that I am focusing on divesting myself of whatever insight and leadership guidance I can give away.  My church is full of young leaders and influencers who need someone to come along side of them and tell them “You have something to give, you have a purpose here”.  This generation is so lost (not just spiritually, in general) they have no idea where they are heading!

    I’m excited about this book because I always seem to be out of time and rarely just seem to decide, I will do XX today! Hoping this is a great seller for you. Thanks for sharing, and thanks Michael for this great space!

  • http://twitter.com/dwightreid Dwight Reid

    Great thoughts! Today I will empty myself of selfish desires and seek to make my Lord the most important aspect of my life. That, in itself for me, always breeds creative energy.

  • http://jasonfountain.blogspot.com Jason Fountain

    Great idea. I think I oftentimes feel a sense of overwhelm at what I can accomplish. Someone mentioned it below, but for me the key is baby steps. If I will do one thing today to move me in the right direction, then another step tomorrow, then… It’s a process of emptying ourselves each day to do our best. It’s not a competition against someone else, it’s a choice to be excellent and make the effort!

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Yes! That seems to be the trick – keeping your eyes on the work that’s YOURS to do and not worrying so much about what others have on their plate. It’s difficult, because it’s easy to fall into the comparison thing or to let expectations escalate in an unhealthy way. But in the end it’s really about fully engaging in whatever we have to do that day. Thanks for the response, Jason!

  • Scott

    How timely is this!!!  I have watched (and more importantly felt the results of) the bottled up dreams and creative potential within me for the past 2-3 years.  It was perhaps even brewing before that, but I began to put a label to it at that time.  And now, in 4 short weeks, I am assuming the role I have dreamed of for so long.  Becoming the senior pastor of a medium size church.  I have been slowly compiling a log of those things to c0nsider when I first put “boots on the ground,” but have found it difficult to think very far ahead in terms of preaching.  Today I will go over the notes I have been accumulating with regard to the presentations to begin in September and make that decision.  I will begin to set the course for sharing my heart through my messages for the first four months.

  • Leslie McDaniel

    I’m going to start today by calling a friend who I know needs some encouragement after dealing with some difficult family issues. Then, I’m going to take my camera and get started on a new project. Ready, set, go!

  • Learning Catalyst

    I like the metaphor of ‘dying empty’ although at the same time I want to die full!  Full of experience, love, community and friendship.  Maybe it is a pardox that the more we empty ourselves the fuller we become.  The real challenge for me right now is that I am in a dessert experience and that can lead to wanting to hold on to the things I have because I feel out of control.  That also doesn’t help with the ‘dying empty’ idea!  Lots to ponder here!

    • Learning Catalyst

      Ha!  Make that desert experience…I wish it was a dessert experience.  Of course then I’d be really full…

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Agreed, and I would argue that we empty ourselves so that we can be filled. It’s hard to be filled today when there is a lot of residue inside of things that were intended for yesterday. Great thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

    Great post! I look forward to reading your book (whether I win one or not).  For personal reasons, I adopted a “Live Like You Are Dying” philosophy at an early age, so your message resonates beautifully.  I have a lot of work to do today, but now I must re-prioritize.  There’s a nine-year-old boy I’ve tutored named RonTrez who lives in an inner city housing project. He longs for opportunities to get out of ‘the hood.’ I haven’t talked to him in a month.  Time to go find my phone. 

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  • http://twitter.com/gakirk gakirk

    I’m going to write that letter I’ve been putting off until I clean up the stacks of paper on my desk.

  • http://twitter.com/RichardDedor Richard Dedor

    Today is Friday, July 1, which means it is time for me to review my goals and progress for the year. That is how I will make a difference. It is time for me to reflect on where I am spending my time and energy and re-adjust so that my passions come back to the surface and I am able to have the greatest impact on those around me. I love this period because it is time to “slap myself around” and get back on track.

  • Anonymous

    To make a difference in today, I’m going to actually start writing the ebook that has been hovering in the back of my mind for months. And I’m also going to sew a prototype of an ipad travel bag I’ve been visualizing. No more waiting for the perfect time because that’s never going to come around. There will always be laundry and cooking and errands…I’m making today a new beginning.  Thanks for the boost, Michael! Again, you’re a wealth of information.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Todd, great blog post this morning. It’s really gotten the creative juices flowing. Also, really liked the video you included. Entertaining and intriguing!

    As for the question “What will I do today to make a difference?”. I’m hoping to help improve the atmosphere of my workplace. It’s great as it is, but it can be better! I’m also hoping to be able to help a friend get her blog site directed properly. Then I am going to spend some quality time with the wife to help improve her day.

    I think this day is going to be pretty great after typing that out. Thanks for brightening my day!!

  • http://chrispalle.com chrispalle

    Though a tad morbid on first glace, thank you for such a sobering and inspiring thought. Given what you’ve postulated, I’d hope to die empty, but in thinking about what that would require, I get a bit overwhelmed: That colleague I flaked out on, that Book Club to which I never fulfilled my obligation, the attorney I didn’t pay… I have some following up to do, just added these to my inbox…. in fact, perhaps I’ll created a project – “Die Empty.”

    For those who think that Dying Empty would mean they stop dreaming, think of it this way: find ways to pour those dreams into others, share your passions and ideas, you’re likely to inspire!

  • http://chrispalle.com chrispalle

    Though a tad morbid on first glace, thank you for such a sobering and inspiring thought. Given what you’ve postulated, I’d hope to die empty, but in thinking about what that would require, I get a bit overwhelmed: That colleague I flaked out on, that Book Club to which I never fulfilled my obligation, the attorney I didn’t pay… I have some following up to do, just added these to my inbox…. in fact, perhaps I’ll created a project – “Die Empty.”
    For those who think that Dying Empty would mean they stop dreaming, think of it this way: find ways to pour those dreams into others, share your passions and ideas, you’re likely to inspire!

  • mrsvan

    What profound thoughts–if I choose to live my life for eternity’s sake, which I do, then I need to CHOOSE to “empty” myself of all that God gives me to live well for today. Thanks for the inspiration. I intend to live this way today, but also to pass this along to those I have the opportunity to influence.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Carpe diem is a great way to live your life. I still remember it from Dead Poets Society…

  • Jean Wise

    This is wonderful and inspirational.  That story will stick with me for a long time.  I do want to die empty.  Reminds me of spirituality based on emptiness.  Thanks for such a great post

  • Ddeguara

    Might sound insignificant, but I’m going to push some ideas to the center of the table and get some answers. Could have a huge impact in the Fall if we move forward.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Nothing is insignificant if it’s what’s in front of you right now. Some days there’s much, some days little. Well done!

  • http://www.sueharrison.com Sue Harrison

    Today, this morning, I awoke at 5 a.m. after caring all night for my mother who has dementia. Little sleep, lots of love. Then I drove to my 91-year-old father-in-law’s house, cleaned his toilet, made his bed, looked at his sore eye and filled his pill caddy. I promised him a good supper tonight. I came home and, after posting this comment, I have three hours to write. Most days I do not. My novels have been international bestsellers (Mother Earth Father Sky, My Sister the Moon etc.). Now I am “famous in the hedgerows.” God gives incredible gifts. I am blessed.

  • http://gregoryherman.net/ Gregory R Herman

    Years ago I spent the night in the hospital, waiting for the inevitable end to my father’s battle with cancer. He had not lived well. There were many poor choices. That night, as I stood by his bed, he found the strength to look at me through the fog of pain and medication. Horror came to me not from his emaciated, sickly body – it was his expression. 50 plus years of regret poured over him all at once. 50 plus years of “would-have, should-have, could-have” twisted the blade until his conscious could no longer take it. He taught me more in those few transparent seconds than he had any moment of my life. 

    Years later, I stood over another frail body in hospital…my newborn son. That night, looking down on him, I vowed to myself and my God that he will never look down on me and see the same expression of guilt and regret. By His grace, I will “die empty.”

  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    I love this concept. It’s Pauline in it’s ‘Pour myself out-ness”.   Today, I will be at work until 3:30 with a large number of little things to tackle before the long weekend–I’d love to empty a bit of myself into each of those cups. I have a feeling if I give joyfully, I’ll be filled up plenty to empty as much as I can of myself w/ my wife and three little ones when I get off.

    Thanks for the post.

  • AnneGale Nester

    What I am going to do is, apply what I have read thus far, instead of sitting around wondering, “what’s wrong with me.”

  • John Fulwider

    Today I am going to begin adding three minutes to every conversation I have with friends and colleagues, seeking their best thoughts on people I can interview for three case study-based books I have in mind.

  • Jack Lynady

    Great read. I try to make a difference by listening into someone’s life. If the opportunity presents itself, I try and help them interpret their life.

  • Judy

    I’m doing it right now…taking a few minutes to work on one of my “creataive” projects.  I make lists and what I want or need to do to move forward on a creative – close-to-my-heart project, but never get to them because of all the urgent things in the way – in my day, from family needs to job needs.  Stress DOES come in the form of what I see in my mind’s heart to do and what I’m not getting done towards it.  Thank you for clear direction and something I can do today!  I too want to die gloriously (with all given to glory of God) and empty of all I’m here to do.

  • Kwall

    Todd’s comments came at the end of a week where I tackled my life plan following Michael’s guide. I cannot express how good it felt disconnecting in a remote location & spending two days thinking and writing about my life. This was a project that I have been trying to execute for several years, but not doing so because of the “urgent”

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.chroninger John Chroninger

    Today I am working on improving the life of myself and all those around me. Last year I wrote a book called, “The House” http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-House/102364816496782 which talks about how to maintain and create a great relationship with everyone in your life and everyone you have yet to meet. Spending the past 13+ years helping people to understand that good things come to those who wait but great things come to those who go out and get them! I feel this falls right in line with dying empty. 

  • Christine Cape

    What’s great about this concept is that it takes the pressure off to do big and amazing things every day and allows one to just take each day at a time and invest in that day. Perhaps that day you did something amazing and perhaps you just finished paying the bills. It is also inspiring to seek to empty yourself each day so that you feel fulfilled at the end of each day. I love how this can be applied to investing in others, your own work, your family, etc. Great visualization. 

  • Debbie

    I want to die empty! I like the sound of that. I just received and accepted a calling to work at a Crises Pregnancy Center, so between that and my family, I want to give it all away

  • Brad McGilligan

    Today I will focus on that “one thing” that I’ve let crisis management delay. Working in a large ministry, there are constantly things and people that “come up” that enable me to procrastinate. I’m done with that today.

    • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

      This reminds me of @michaelhyatt:disqus ‘s urgent versus important post.  http://michaelhyatt.com/is-that-task-important-or-merely-urgent.html

      2 minute video. good stuff.

  • http://www.thehacknovelist.com The Hack Novelist

    For more than a year, I’ve gotten up at 5:00AM, leaving my wife in bed (the hardest part) and sat down in front of my computer to pound out a few hundred words on my first novel. Afterward I go to work for a full-day worth of grind. Several of my blog readers have asked how I manage to keep up such a grueling schedule, but to me it’s not grueling but a release. By the time I roll into work every morning, I’m already two hours closer to being published, and that’s worth the cost of “showing up.”

    Great post. Thank you.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Yes! Love this, and completely empathize. If it’s any encouragement, I just dropped off a copy of the book to the crew at my local Starbucks thanking them for being there every day at 5:30a so I could crank out my book proposal, and eventually the book as well… :) That daily “showing up” is so important. Well done!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501808104 Darva Oswald Kinney

    Thanks for this most challenging blog!  I appreciate the words you have given to the feeling you have and I join you, I desire to “die empty”.    It has also been said  ” to plant trees under whose shade we will not sit”.  For me it means being true to what is most important in my life, Christ and people.  Enjoying the process as well as the end result.  Today  I am given the opportunity to spend the weekend with people who are the most dear to me, I will be 100 present and always thankful.  

  • Gary Darnell

    I just retired after 31 years teaching. I started to write a memory type book. I did not get far but today I will take it out and begin again. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

      I bet you have scores of good stories from that kind of career in teaching.

  • Andrew

    I’m a youth pastor. Creativity is so important to what we do as we are constantly interacting with a youth culture that is constantly changing and evolving. Today, I plan to try out some of this “unnecessary creating” that Todd writes about to come up some creative solutions to teaching God’s unchanging Truth in a very changing world so that our students can learn to seek and apply Truth in their everyday lives.

    • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

      What new ideas are on your agenda to try?

  • Diana Gourley

    Yesterday, I
    prayed to know who needed my help. The name of a friend came to mind. I called
    her and asked, “How are you doing?” She replied, “Good.” I said,
    “That’s not a very convincing ‘Good;’ what’s up?” My friend then told
    me of the great anxiety she is feeling preparing for the Praxis content
    knowledge exam coming up toward the end of July. Since I have already taken and
    passed this exam several years ago, I soothed her fears and did my best to
    encourage her. I also went over a few of the practice questions and explained
    why certain answers were the correct choice. As we said our goodbyes, my friend
    said, “Thank you. This morning I prayed for help, and you are the answer
    to my prayer.”

    What am I going
    to do to make a difference today? I am meeting with my friend to help her
    prepare for the Praxis Examination. I will continue to pray for guidance to be
    the answer to someone’s prayer.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VUUGMM5WXKDNMJMGCGE5ADSNFY Coach J

    What will I do to make a difference today?

    For me: I’m going to run three miles in the heat!  I love running when it’s hot.  It’s like a hot house, cleansing the junk from my soul.

    For my daughters: I drove an extra 25 miles to get a friend of theirs to come and run with us today.

    For my wife: I’m taking her to Iowa City to visit family, and watch live jazz under the stars.

    I love this idea! :)

    • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

      I like to beat the heat. But I am also taking my wife on a date tonight to the place rated #1 new restaurant in Pittsburgh, @saltpgh:twitter .

  • M Giles

    I love this idea! I am inspired to dedicate more time to my poetry so it doesn’t stay with me until the graveyard!

  • Jana Swartwood

    I work a job that demands creativity, but it’s the sort of creativity that flows most frequently through problem-solving.  I very much relate to the feeling that I’ve been “emptied” after a demanding day or season.  But this emptying leaves a void (as most emptying does, I suppose).  What I love best about writing (in those few moments when I let myself do it) is that it invokes almost a deeper sort of emptying–where the more I am emptied, the more I am filled.  I wonder sometimes if this is a sign that one is on the right track, that in those places where the refilling feeds the emptying, there we find true purpose.

    Loved your post.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Back in 1996, I sat down with a career counselor. She did some testing and came up with two paths that made the most sense for me… computer networking or creative design. The networking job was left brain, predictable, and had a long ladder of success. The creative job was right brain, unpredictable, and all over the map as far as an actual career went. 

    I so wanted to take on the creative job. I LOVE designing, writing, speaking, and expressing myself. Yet one thing kept me from making that move that day. One thing made me pick the left brain ladder of success. One thing stopped my creative goals cold.

    That one thing was…

    Having to create on demand.

    The thought of someone telling me what to create seemed foreign. I couldn’t imagine someone telling me to crank out creative widgets everyday. Creativity was fun precisely because it had no bounds.

    So I made a decision that day. I would pursue the logical path of computer networking. I would do the tedious work, learn the code, and make everything work. I would do things by the book. I would be a slave to the whims of Microsoft, Novell, and Cisco. I wouldn’t deviate, I would just do. 

    My creative life would be on my time.

    Today, 15 years later, I look back at my path. My left brain served me well. I made good money and was by a book definition… successful. Yet my job just ended yesterday. My tedious left brain job was eliminated. Now I have a decision to make again. I can go back to a lesser left brain job, or I can strike out on a new frontier, engaging in a creative job.

    I just need an answer, Todd. 

    How do I create on demand???

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Ahhh…this is the real heart of it, no? That’s the pressure that many of us feel every day – create on demand –  and it’s the core reason I do what I do and why I wrote the book. The gist of it is this: if you want a brilliant idea, you need to begin far upstream from the moment you need that idea. You do this by building practices around Focus, Relationships, Energy, Stimuli and Hours to create space for brilliant ideas to emerge. You establish an infrastructure to support your creative process so that you’re not constantly reacting, but instead you have a deep reservoir from which to respond. 

      But I don’t know that you have to sacrifice one for the other. Instead, it’s a matter of seeing your life and creating as more than just your work. Your work probably can’t contain the sum total of your creative efforts, nor should it. The times I’ve been most miserable in my life were the times when I was looking to my job to do something it could never do – completely fulfill my creative ambitions. 

      Does this help?

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        That’s why I took the safe path before. I didn’t want my creativity compromised by a job. For example, I love Photoshop. I love to create amazing designs with it. My concern would be, if it was my 8 to 5 job, would I grow to hate it or would it still be fun, even though it was my profession. Your book looks like it may be the answer I’m looking for.

  • Perryh

    I may not be able to handle reading the entire book, it may be more than I can handle based on the 5 truths I took (and tweeted out to others) from just the blog post. This was written DIRECTLY to me. Thank you for waking me and moving me in the direction I was meant to go.

  • Rebecca Irwin

    I will begin by asking,”Lord, what would you have me do today?”  I will say yes to relationship. I will give my full attention.  I will read the Word and ask the Spirit to align my dreams with His work.  I will hope.

  • Octavian Gabor

    You know what is great about this post? Just read all the comments below and feel the positive energy! It made me feel joy. A positive attitude connected with death.

    I’ve heard an orthodox priest one say: “Do you know what is the greatest wisdom on earth that guides one from all sin? Death.” Here is a link:

  • Diana Gourley

    I enjoy reading your blogs. I am a better person because of the true north principles they contain. Thanks for sharing your gifts and talents with us. You are making a difference for good in the world. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/rogerthomasfields Roger Fields


  • http://www.facebook.com/rogerthomasfields Roger Fields


  • http://www.facebook.com/AbrahamGibson Abraham Gibson

    Always in for a give away & understanding brilliance is something I could sure use. The book sounds great!

    Answer to Todds question: I just got married, and we’ve just finished our honeymoon, so today im laying foundations with my wife for a life of influence and intentional significance. 

  • http://twitter.com/marybethwhalen Marybeth

    I am going to write 1700 words on a spec novel I am writing. I’ve made a plan to write that many words every day in July, no matter what. I am also going to pour into a little 9yo boy I have on my couch who fell off a motorized scooter last night and is pretty pitiful feeling and looking. (He has road rash on his nose and chin, knuckles, knees, and forearms.) At Mother’s Day I went to his class’ tea where they honored the moms. Each child stood up and read what their moms did for them. Most of the kids mentioned how their moms took care of them when they were sick or hurt. That made a big impact on me that obviously they place value on receiving extra TLC in those times. This is my opportunity to do so.

  • WeberEthan

    After reading this post, I recognize that divide that separates me from what I think I should be doing and what I am actually doing. I am tired of living in discontent from the higher standard that I hold myself to in my head. Today I am going to jump start a new healthy habit. First, by setting some artistic goals to accomplish by the end of summer and then second, by evaluating what it is going to take to get me there. To give you an example, I would really like to write some worship songs and express my praise to the Lord in that way. I have yet to accomplish this goal, and its about time. Thank you for the great insight and encouraging word!

  • http://www.SammyA.com Sammy Adebiyi

    There’s a single mom at our church who adopted 3 orphans [2 from haiti]. Today I’m gonna take one of the girls [5] on a lunch/ice cream date then I’m gonna spoil her a little :). Be ‘daddy’ figure for the little one. 


  • Aaron L

    This article could not have been more timely for me. I am feeling that ever growing divide between my passions and my 9-5 work. Most of the things I do when I feel fully alive are in the margins of my day. I have several incomplete conversations and opportunities that I have left in my inbox over the last two months. Today I will fix that.
    Thanks for the post!
    Aaron L

  • http://hartke-teetertottering.blogspot.com/ Lynnehartke

    Two of my children spent two weeks of June in Mozambique, Africa, working with missionary friends in their ministry of showing compassion to people dying in the local hospital from cancer or AIDS. They listened to stories, offered sips of water and sometimes just sat and held a hand. Since they got home, we’ve been talking about how can we show acts of compassion here. On my desk has been a brochure from an organization, Faces in the Mirror, that provides facials and massages to people with cancer as they go through treatment here in the Phoenix area. As a cancer survivor myself, I have contemplated getting involved. Today I’m going to take the first step. I’m going to find out how to become a volunteer.

  • Diana Gourley

    Yesterday, I
    prayed to know who needed my help. The name of a friend came to mind. I called
    her and asked, “How are you doing?” She replied, “Good.” I said,
    “That’s not a very convincing ‘Good;’ what’s up?” My friend then told
    me of the great anxiety she is feeling preparing for the Praxis content
    knowledge exam coming up toward the end of July. Since I have already taken and
    passed this exam several years ago, I soothed her fears and did my best to
    encourage her. I also went over a few of the practice questions and explained
    why certain answers were the correct choice. As we said our goodbyes, my friend
    said, “Thank you. This morning I prayed for help, and you are the answer
    to my prayer.”

    What am I going
    to do to make a difference today? I am meeting with my friend to help her
    prepare for the Praxis Examination. I will continue to pray for guidance to be
    the answer to someone’s prayer.


    • Diana Gourley

      Sorry for the duplicate post. I’m still learning how to do them.

  • Mike Greenberg

    I ‘almost’ reposted this ~ but the disconnect for me about the beautiful post and Todd’s book ~ which looks great, added the word ‘almost.’ ~ sorry man, love ya.

  • http://twitter.com/brentgoers Brent Goers

    I try to get the most out of every day. Every minute/hour/day that goes by is lost.  So I ask myself, “Am I getting better or getting worse (there is no staying the same)?” By tackling each hour, I’m able to chip away at big goals & accomplish more! I want to leave a legacy of hard work, passion & love for my kids.

  • Diana Gourley

    Yesterday, I
    prayed to know who needed my help. The name of a friend came to mind. I called
    her and asked, “How are you doing?” She replied, “Good.” I said,
    “That’s not a very convincing ‘Good;’ what’s up?” My friend then told
    me of the great anxiety she is feeling preparing for the Praxis content
    knowledge exam coming up toward the end of July. Since I have already taken and
    passed this exam several years ago, I soothed her fears and did my best to
    encourage her. I also went over a few of the practice questions and explained
    why certain answers were the correct choice. As we said our goodbyes, my friend
    said, “Thank you. This morning I prayed for help, and you are the answer
    to my prayer.”

    What am I going
    to do to make a difference today? I am meeting with my friend to help her
    prepare for the Praxis Examination. I will continue to pray for guidance to be
    the answer to someone’s prayer.


  • Hobby

    I have heard that when an old person dies, it is like a library burning down to the ground. We need to tell our stories, share our gifts, give our love without concern for approval, acceptance or reciprocation… Fill our lives up so we can “Die Empty.”  Thanks for a thought provoking concept, Todd.  Today I will share my gifts – creativity and laughter.

  • Chuck Meadors

    This is a great challenge to serve at your very best and not die with your music still inside you.

  • Glendonna

    Today, I am going to add value to the people in my life and everyone that I meet- even in the mundane of life like ironing or washing dishes.  Instead of dreading ordinary tasks of life I’m going to think of the people I’m doing it for and be glad.  There are so many things I want to do and I really like the idea of emptying myself each day rather than “wishing” I had done more.

  • Joshua Madden

    I am full, I long to be empty! Thank you for this simple truth that brings peace!!

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

    I don’t think I’ll die empty because I have way more ideas than I can actually act on. :)  In my opinion, some people need to be challenged to chase the big dreams they’ve been too afraid to pursue, but others need to be more focused so they can have a big impact with their big dream and not let lots of little ideas distract from it. One of the biggest challenges of life is deciding whether that idea is really for us and for now.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      This is very true, Paul. That’s the challenge – deciphering what’s for now and what’s for sometime later.

  • Russell His

    I am involved in a project with a group of people that is stalling because I am out of the country and without me leadership they are not following through.  I will call these team members and keep the project moving. 

    Russell Wiesner

  • Anonymous

    I have had a broken relationship with my step-mother for many years. I had to deal with a lot of bitterness and unforgiveness over the last year. I have felt strongly that I need to call her and meet with her. She is not a believer and I believe God is calling me to plant a seed. In all honesty I have avoided it. Your post reminded me today I need to knock it off and call her. Afterall, it’s not about me, it’s about The Kingdom. 

    Thanks for the reminder. 

  • JoAnne Potter

    This goes way beyond a career plan.  Dying empty to me means to let go of any plans or desires that do not further the kingdom of God.  Staying focused on a goal bigger than myself help me prioritize everything.

  • http://twitter.com/RyanPatrickWOA Ryan Patrick

    I recently left my secure job of 14 years to go into business for myself. I’ve never been a “jump and wait for the net to appear” kind of guy.  But I felt God telling me that the time was right.  My hope is that my new career path will not only provide for my family, but will provide for the countless family members of my clients’ employees and customers.  If I can make a difference with someone who has put their trust in me, I can make a difference in a lot of people’s lives.  The difficult part for me is staying focused on helping others and not being so self-centered.  With God’s help, I hope to do just that.

  • http://DebraSmouse.com Debra Smouse

    I hope that my faith continues to move me forward in courage so that the bulk of my ideas and goals are shared before I pass on to the next life.

  • http://twitter.com/cheetosrapper Dan Greegor

    Personal development. I really enjoy John Maxwell’s comment that you cannot give what you do not have. I want to build myself so that I have much to give.

  • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

    Great post! I look forward to reading your book (whether I win one or not).  For personal reasons, I adopted a “Live Like You Are Dying” philosophy at an early age, so your message resonates beautifully.  I have a lot of work to do today, but I re-prioritize.  There’s a nine-year-old boy named RonTrez who lives in an inner city housing project that I’ve tutored. I haven’t talked to him in a month. 

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

    I am currently reading the book of Nehemiah for the first time and am learning about how it takes an army to build a wall. I am also learning that if you have a conviction and something you want to do, you MUST die empty. I have been holding back with so many things I wanted to do and help others. This is the type of book that could help so many others live full, give freely and die empty.

  • Anonymous

    Today I will listen. Really listen. I’m certain the world would be a different place if we spent more time listening and less time expressing our own views. Thanks for this post and your inspiration at The Accidental Creative blog.

  • Connie

    I married a fellow Iowa grad. Qualified, hardworking, a BBA,
    the door to a professional career did not open for me. Fortunately, my
    husband’s political science degree yielded a successful career. I invested my
    gifts in family and volunteer work. On the verge of retiring, we vacationed at
    Hatteras with our three adult children and daughter-in-law. Diving into a wave
    my husband was instantly paralyzed from the shoulders down. Our oldest saved
    him from drowning. Swamped by phone calls, I posted to Caring Bridge daily for
    79 days. Almost two years later I’m still hearing, “You should write a book.” I’m writing and a memoir is in progress. Doors open in God’s time and sometimes they’re not the
    ones we expect.

  • http://www.storywrought.wordpress.com Lizzie

    What an incredibly inspiring post.  I need to empty myself of so much . . . including starting the novel I’ve been skirting around for months now.  I want to do nothing more than write, yet I let everything else get in the way.  I’m currently planning my fall, which will include me dropping everything stable – job, city, etc. – to hit the road and drive until I find opportunities.  Or in reality, to drive until I’m where God wants me next.  It’s terrifying, but I feel God leading me to this.  Your post came at a great time: I need to reprioritize my life and empty myself daily.  Cannot wait to read your book!

  • http://www.gljones01.wordpress.com Greg


    Amazing insight and I must say that it is a perspective changer. Our culture tells us to amass, but to what end? I think that leaving an “empty” legacy is something all of us should aspire to, in some form or fashion. I recently started a blog, stepped up my twittering, and am committing to be the best leader that I can be, in my marriage, in the Body of Christ, and at work and in the community. I hope to die the emptiest person! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jerry-Maxwell/1555134904 Jerry Maxwell

    That’s a very good question for me to think about as I sit here trying to decide my plan of action to publish my first book on living into others lives.  Can I risk it?

    I’ve done it before, started a successful business in the middle of the last big recession in the 1980’s.  Putting together a leadership team to plant a church in the 90’s.  Why can’t I risk everything at 73 and do it again with a book I’ve written that I think can make a difference in others lives.  You’ve written these words as I struggle with the next step.  Yesterday, Seth’s challenge and today yours!  Thanks! 

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    This was a great post. It was a good reminder for us Type A task minded individuals. Our lives are certainly not our own. There are too many other people in the world who need what we have. I’m trying to make a difference by working as an educator training ministry minded college students. As an educator the pay isn’t anything to talk about but I do get to see them graduate and go out into the world to make a difference. This type of work multiplies my efforts!

  • Mjingmire

    What a timely post!  This morning I woke up feeling more refreshed than I have in weeks.  I think the reason is that I finally wrote 4 pages of a novel yesterday.  Went to bed empty last night.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! Definitely my favorite guest post so far. I can’t agree more about the creative divide that you mentioned. It’s tough to both manage and promote a blog as well as create content. Emptying yourself daily is the perfect attitude for this dilemma.

    Thanks for sharing. This was a great reminder to empty myself this day.

  • http://www.JennyArnez.com Jenny Arnez

    “The question is, will you die full of unexecuted ideas or will you die empty? ” If today were my last day, I would die full of unexecuted ideas. Fortunately, these days I have been feeling an increasing sense of discomfort and restlessness. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s midlife and being keenly aware that both of my folks died in their 60’s – the ages they expected to be enjoying their retirement freedom. I’ve also realized that I’m modeling life for my  teen girls; do I want them to live life to their God given potential, fullfilling God sized dreams or merely pay the bills? I’m starting to feel a flame under my behind to get clear, get focused and get moving on living again the very life I desire for my girls and those that I love – the life I know I’m called to live. Thanks so much for this post and picture of the graveyard – it heightens my sense of urgency.

  • John Whaley

    What a great thought – Die Empty!   Life is too short and too precious to waste all the creativity God has placed within us.   Thanks for motivating me to passionately pursue my God-given potential. 

  • Joe Tallant

    I am reminded of the Erma Bombeck quote: “When I stand before God at the end of my life I hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.

    I am watching, teaching, and hopefully inspiring my two sons today.

  • http://twitter.com/helenheiskell Helen Heiskell

    Today I’m going to start on the article for publication that I’ve been putting off for 6 months.

  • Rick Higgins

    I have discovered that as I give myself to others I am able to give up a preoccupation with myself so that I am not worrying about my problems but my focus is on others.  As I seek to encourage others I actually encourage myself  as I help others. 

    The prophet Isaiah said it well, “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.” 

    So today I want to make a difference by encouraging someone who may be feeling weary.

  • http://twitter.com/GROWCounseling GROW Counseling

    Good stuff! Can’t wait to dive into the book.

  • Paula Daum

    My journey began 28 days ago.  I left my management position with the largest health insurer in the United States to follow the Holy Spirit and spend each day living and working for a more meaningful life.  At 48 years old, with over 23 years at this company, it took awhile to make this leap of faith.  What have the last 28 days been filled with?  More time with my 7 year old son, my husband, my aging parents.  More time in service at my church – both with administrative work and in shepherding children.  More time at my son’s school – looking for ways to contribute to the good work they do there.  More time in my community – volunteering at this time for the United Way.

    I am open and listening for all that God is speaking to me, through all the people he speaks through, and in all ways that I can.  I have never felt more content, more energized, more loved and more open to the ways that I need to serve God and serve my family. 

  • Carrie Padgett

    Wow, this resonated with me. Especially the observation that we need to creat for the sheer joy of it. I’ve been putting off some “crafty” projects because I thought I was too busy and I needed to hoard my creativity for my day job. I’m going to go buy some quilt fabric today and get started on my new project. Thanks for telling me it’s not just okay to do that, but necessary.

  • http://i2ileadership.org Randy Gravitt

    Great post.  Since I am dying, I need to find someone to give my free copy of “The Accidental Creative’ to.  Can’t wait to read it!

  • Michael Deutsch

    The short and honest answer is that this is a haunting question / topic for me.  I have dreams and desires, but often times don’t get them put into motion, so my hope is that this post is a catalyst to jump start the execution of my dreams, so that I can die empty.  Thank you!

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Just do something – even something very small – today. That’s the only place to begin, no?

  • http://twitter.com/abbylive Abby Van Wormer

    Today I am going to start sketching ideas for the next painting I’m going to create for my friend. I’ve put it off for too long, simply because I’ve been feeling drained and exhausted, yet being creative is what energizes me. The longer I put it off, the harder it seems. But life is too short, so I gotta do it. :)

  • http://kingdomdreamstour.com Teri Frana

    This morning I’ve been mulling over the idea of losing your life to find it.  It is the motto of my faith, but so few of us really live to empty ourselves.  The concepts you introduce seem to not only be concepts to living creatively, but simply living.  How much of our lifestyle steals the power of creative, abundant life from us? 

    I chose abundant life over comfort, over security, and over the practicality that says, “You can’t do this – it’s too big for you.” 

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Very true, Teri. The love of comfort is often the enemy of greatness. :)

  • Bobby Arkills

    To finish each day “empty”…at first I was putting up the defenses, “Well, I need to take care of myself, stay healthy”. Then I realized that if I really finish the day empty I have no alternative but to spend time with the source of life, Jesus, to fill up again and tackle the next.  It’s much easier to face the daily tasks, goals, obstacles in my own (deficient) power instead of than trusting God to fill me up.  Takes me to “his strength is made perfect in my weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Rather than sacrificing my personal, emotional, spiritual health I would be attacking it from a different angle–actual need vs perceived need.  The more I think about Todd’s idea I really like it.  Two glorious weeks of vacation on a quiet lake await me and I hope to have this thought of “dying empty” rattling around in my brain. Thanks, Todd and Michael.

  • Austin Hill

    I felt as though this post perfectly described me. I’ve had two long-term writing projects in my mind and heart for years that have just barely been able to get off the ground. So I frequently find myself rationalizing my lack of progress. Your words about daily deciding to create for a large task are huge. This has motivated me to strive to write on a regular basis, even if I don’t think it’s a masterpiece yet. Waiting around for the perfect feeling of inspiration most likely will result in unrealized dreams. Thanks for reminding me that “perfect” can often be the biggest enemy of “really good.”

  • http://www.thedailywalk.net Adam

    Wow. This books sounds amazing.

    My wife and I have always dreamed of adopting, but we always come up with reasons or things that hold us back. I have several idea that could help us finance that, but have not pursued any. Today I will start working on that!

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Adam, having been through the adoption process as well – GO FOR IT! Despite the struggles and the challenges of navigating the process, we can’t imagine life otherwise. 

  • Ann

    Signing up for the book giveaway.

  • http://iowaorchard.wordpress.com Iowaorchard

    I am cheerful and kind to strangers. Seems simple, but the world is full of unfriendliness. People have noticed. I choose to be a positive rather than a negative.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely inspirational, thank you so much for sharing!  It’s really resonated with me. From now on I’m going to get someone to make accountable to being ‘empty’.

  • Jake Frank

    I want to say yes, I will die empty [especially after the inspiration of this]; but I’m hesitant, because I relate all to well to exactly what Todd said: spread thin, feeling unmotivated, blah, blah, blah. I understand opening comments of wanting to die with dreams still alive and functioning, but I know today that my first long term goal will be to die empty. I can’t imagine a more satisfying existence than to go out know that every day I put forth everything I was given to advance something greater than just me in my ho-hum life.

  • Nick Curry

    I found this article incredibly challenging. There are projects that I want to do and dreams that I want to accomplish that I have neglected or haven’t pushed through on. This article has inspired me to increase my efforts and make the most of every day.

  • Eric

    One idea that would make a difference for me is to not waste energy on things that I cannot change.  Daily commitment to the most important things that are clearly my responsibilities, coupled with thankfulness for the gifts God has given today, would be a good starting point for me.

    • Ben Holbrook

      I am learning this one Eric, to be responsible for what i am responsible for and prayerfully let God be God in the rest – definitely helps me not to worry.

  • Linda

    I love your suggestion – to die empty, and to expend all you’ve got, every day.  I find myself pondering what a difference that could make in my life.  It kind of goes hand in hand with a quote I heard recently  from Will Smith.  He said (paraphrased) that whatever you do, you should be willing to die for — (or work as if your life depended on it.)  

  • http://twitter.com/steve_guate Steve Cobb

    I’m going to take advantage of the creative moments, evaluate the projects I’ve been putting off, and empty myself for the day before 7pm.  

  • Rob Russo

    Wow. I love this “die empty” concept, Todd. While first I thought it was just about working hard each day and getting as much done as possible — which no doubt would lead to a head-spinning burnout in no time fast — I realize this same approach applies to playing hard, too. Finding balance in it all is key but whatever we do, we can hope to be empty by day’s end. Life is too short to take any moment for granted. Thanks for this reminder.

  • Jacob Mitchell

    Great article Michael.  I think my dad puts it well, but in a much simpler way.  He tells me not to expect an inheritance because his last check will bounce!

  • KevinC

    do find myself asking that question a lot lately. When I fall into a state of
    discontent that prevents me from being focused on my goals, I get extremely frustrated.
    I find myself searching for a sense of direction and answers to help me control
    the things that are beyond my control. For me, it’s these uncontrollable items
    that cause me discontent. If I am to make a difference, I have to break the
    control these items have over me or end up dying full. Coach Lou Holtz once
    read a poem to a group of us call “The Dash” and it made a great
    impression on me. On everyone’s tomb stone there is a date they were born a
    DASH and the date they die. Your life is not about either date, it’s about the
    “DASH”. Was your “DASH” full or empty?

  • http://www.aaronsellars.com Aaron Sellars

    I’m going

  • http://www.aaronsellars.com Aaron Sellars

    I’m going to spend some time with my family on my four day weekend to make a difference in their lives.

  • Charissa Greer

    I will start executing my apparel designs and stop leaving them on paper and in my head.  I stopped sewing my designs b/c of my own fear and non-stop perfectionism.  Thank you for the encouragement!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll die empty and probably broke

  • Anonymous

    I am going to give my full attention to my son and wife.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Yes! Love this. It’s not just about “doing stuff” it’s about whatever is in us today that’s meant for others.

  • http://swipeouthunger.com Caleb McNary

    Great observations, you nailed how I feel exactly! I have several ideas in my head that are in no way related to the work I do (like a children’s book, of all things), but I just keep them there without at least trying to develop them. Then I feel like I never get to be creative, and its my own fault. Great insight, I can’t wait to read the book.

  • Evan Hampton

    I don’t believe God cares about our grand gestures more than He does our small objectives. I have dreams, as everyone does, of making a difference. But, maybe the way we’re meant to make a difference is by making a stranger smile, or go out of our way to help a lady with a big box to the car. We can all aim to end poverty or cure diseases, but we can also aim to help our neighbor smile. God is found in the little things just as much as the big ones. So today I’m going to make a stranger laugh, and go from there.

  • http://twitter.com/dashingly Lindsey

    It’s pretty sad to think of it that way, but your South African friend was absolutely right. Putting off until tomorrow isn’t a very good idea.

  • http://www.crittyjoy.com Christy

    When the link for this post popped up on twitter I did not want to click…. He seems to be bringing things around to several subjects of the same nature in my life.  I think He enjoys making me uncomfortable. ;)  Great post that both challenged me and inspired me.

    Today I am going to play with my niece and read her a book.  Pouring into her seems so beautiful to me right now.

  • http://twitter.com/btotherock blair roberts

    i would love a copy of this book. todd’s description of the divide that begins to emerge between what we think we should be doing and what we actually are and the discontent that comes from that perfectly describes where i’m at. thanks for the insight.

    what am i going to do today to make a difference? i am going to start writing and not stop, regardless of what comes out. there is so much i want to say and i’ve always wanted to write. i’ve always held back because i feel like it’s impossible to make it a living. but i think that whether i make a living out of it or not, i still have to write. because i have that discontent, and the only way i can work through it is through writing. so whether it’s just for my own sanity or for a living, i must start writing.

    would love a copy of this book. thanks for the offer!

  • http://twitter.com/jduris Julie Ann Duris

    My husband, in his wonderful, enthusiastic style, is in the middle of a
    big project right now writing scripts, sermons and other fun stuff for a
    kid’s camp.  I’m his sounding board for everything he writes and
    dreams. Being distracted by the stress of life and my personal creative dry spell has caused me to be half-hearted in
    being the sounding board I usually love to be.
    Freeing up my mind by changing my attitude and holding on to gratitude about being a partner in ministry with my husband is going to make a difference today.   I am ready to jump in with both feet and have fun with him as we have conversations about camp…focusing on today and not on the great ‘what’s if’s?”

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, sounds good. Who doesn’t want to be  creative.

  • http://www.nannettericaforte.com Nannette Ricaforte

    I’ve been reading this blog for months now and never felt compelled to comment but you touched upon the “malaise” that has plagued me for months. I am a photographer and lament that I have to work my day job which (I believed until reading your post) acts like a tourniquet to the flow of my creativity. I either berate myself for not doing enough for my photography business or exhaust myself from doing too much. When I get home tonight I will begin the process of emptying myself. Thank you for your insightful wisdom.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Yes! May boundless creative energy fill you everyday, and may it be spent. :)

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Today I’m writing an eBook about stepping into your dreams, something I’ve become more passionate about recently.

  • Ryanroberts311

    I’m always making a difference. I can do nothing and it makes a difference when juxtaposed to doing something. Its not a matter of whether or not I’m making a difference, but rather what kind of difference. My goal is growth and facilitating growth. To make the difference I want to make, I need to learn. Learn by reading. Learn by experience. Learn by failure and success. Learning makes the most difference to me and those around me.

  • Ryanroberts311

    I’m always making a difference. I can do nothing and it makes a difference when juxtaposed to doing something. Its not a matter of whether or not I’m making a difference, but rather what kind of difference. My goal is growth and facilitating growth. To make the difference I want to make, I need to learn. Learn by reading. Learn by experience. Learn by failure and success. Learning makes the most difference to me and those around me.

  • http://twitter.com/clyderandall Clyde Randall Waters

    What are you going to do today to make a difference? Today, I am going to invite others to come along. Life is fun and its even more fun when you have others to share that with. The more we share in life together, the more of a difference we will make in those around us.

  • Haydee A.

    Many times I just wish to die cos I’ve too many unfulfilled dreams, I feel I can’t meet my purpose.  For now, I’m trying to live each day & be happy, forgiving people, giving what I could..  And on my deathbed, I want to be free from all regrets most especially in relationships.  I know by then I wouldn’t think about my failures.

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    Done! Today I can die empty. Thanks again, Todd, for lighting a fire. The fruit of today’s labor:

    Is your Church Website Attractional or Missional? http://wp.me/p1EcMh-8j

    Can anyone else die empty today?

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    Wow! I can’t help but be inspired by this idea of dying empty. You perfectly captured the motive behind some of my recent decisions. Today I’m taking care of my best friend’s 2 year old while her husband is in the hospital and I’m free to do that because yesterday was my last day of work. While I thought today would be spend catching up on writing projects or working on my novel, I’m taming her hair into pigtails, blowing bubbles, and playing with dollies. Not only do I get to spend time with her, I’m relieving some of her parents’ stress and that means more than anything to me.

  • zanne

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    span.s1 {letter-spacing: 0.0px}

    Thanks for this great post! I’ve lived for a long time with that divide between what I think I should be doing and what I’m actually doing, and it’s painful. In fact, I’m only just beginning to come out of it now. It seems to be a slow and confusing process, but I’m encouraged by your idea of emptying myself daily. You’ve motivated me today to start taking those small steps that are necessary to make my life happen. Much appreciated!

  • RoweRoo

    Todd, your article almost brought me to tears. Just yesterday I prayed: “I am at the crossroads, God. I am 50 years old and feel like I haven’t even been ‘taken out of the box’ yet. I am almost through raising my one, beloved kid. Is it too late for me?”
    Action to take: I am going to clear out my old office space, dust 15 yrs of crud off “old faithful” (my ancient drawing board), find a new bulb for the lamp, sit down, create, AND execute. Rinse and repeat daily. I will let you know when I produce something excellent and drain-worthy.
    I hope to die as empty as a rinsed-out jar.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Now your comment almost brings me to tears as well… amazing stuff. Best wishes on your new endeavor! 

  • Steve Wood

    Having a creating mind is both a blessing and a curse. I can’t seem to turn it off and I have too many thoughts and ideas to even begin to do something with a majority of them. Some of those ideas come and go quickly, some hang around for awhile and a few just stick and I can’t stop thinking about them. 2 of those I have not acted on other than talking more about them and jotting a couple of notes down, but nothing of consequence. I think fear and laziness have paralyzed me and I am encouraged to take the first step. Thank you for the kick in the pants!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jerolyn-Brown-Bogear/513174298 Jerolyn Brown Bogear

    Today, I am working on my husband and my book on marriage; writing in my blog (devotionals), taking care of a three year old so a mommy can get a break, and working in our youth group’s fireworks stand so kids can go to camp. Whew, I think I need to go take a nap first.

  • Hazere Sichembe

    To make a difference today, I will write a text message of encouragement to friends. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=763523310 Julie Gumm

    Today I am going to give my kids my FULL attention when they’re talking to me. I’m going to do something intentionally fun with them. I am going to outline two speeches and I am going to pray for my two brothers who are both waiting to be matched with adoptive children.

  • http://twitter.com/leslielaughs Leslie L

    What great advice. Grateful to have that to think on today. I’m going to work on this today by intentionally speaking life-giving and encouraging words to the people around me – coworkers, friends and my husband.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carina.brunson Carina A. Wyant Brunson

    The statement “If you leave this unrealized work inside it can eventually cause you to
    resent your day-to-day work, and over time it can eat away at your soul.” really struck me.

    I had not been happy with where I am until just recently. I think reading these blog’s posted by Hyatt have changed my view on things, but also because of my own realization that I am the only one that can change the way I feel about my home, job, and life. I have been given all the necessary tools to take the path that I want, it may take years for me to get there, but it’s the one day at a time that I have finally let myself see instead of always thinking I am never going to get there. I know now that I just need to strive each day to accomplish something, or some little part of where I want to be.

    It is still hard for me to know that my long-term goals are a bit off, but I also have been a lot happier in recent weeks knowing that I am making a difference where I am at right now. – on myself and others.

    Thank you for sharing these words and just giving me something more to think about and push me to finish some things that I have started and put down in a pile.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    What a profound and haunting thought! I

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissa.leembruggen Melissa Hager Leembruggen

    Whamo! Your intro hit me, since it sounded like I was the one writing! This was particularly poignant for me because I have been in that season of blaming and day-to-day non-creative stuff for going on a year now. The exact date was July 8, 2010. It was the date my creative business associate was murdered.

    Since then it’s been a year of:  learn to be creative through the production process, get the jobs done, go, go, go. This month I finally decided I needed to breathe and reconcile some of these issues of work, grief, and future creative growth.

    Unfortunately, I understand the South African all too well since my amazingly creative friend was put in the graveyard at age 22. Since then my motivational one word that God gave me for this year was “finish”. So many things were left unfinished that needed to be done, which I have made great progress on in 6 months. But now, I think it is a great idea to add this new point of clarity for my circumstances to “finish and die empty each day”. And for me that will mean in my priority areas that I’ve been defining thanks for MH’s life plan resources.

    Brandon’s last FaceBook post the day he died was by Hugh, “Life is too short not to do something that matters.” I think that is a complementary thought. Thanks for a perfectly timed guest post!

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    Deuteronomy 30:15-20 includes the following words (God speaking): “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…I have set before you life  and death, blessings and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…that you may love the Lord your God…that  you may cling (cleave) to Him for He is your life…” Every day, I choose life and blessings, I set my love on God, and I cleave to Him. He is my life and He leads my steps. If I stumble, He works everything out to my good and the good of those around me. Most important of all, He gives me the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom I need to manifest His love to my fellow human beings.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    What a profound and haunting thought!

    I work hard at approaching life as the steward of God’s resources, including the the abilities he has given me. My challenge is focusing on the main thing, not just good things. Lately, I really try to follow John Stott’s approach of using discernment and discipline (in this particular order.) I spend much time seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Once I have discerned God’s leading, I could get “ruthless” about saying “no”. This really keeps me from doing a lot of good things but ending up missing the very best. Through a chance encounter, I will be doing much more speaking beginning the Fall.

    One other barrier to dying empty is that many people tend to minimize or downplay our gifts (I’ve certainly had done this a lot – partly because of my Chinese background.) Thank God! I’ve come to the place where I am not shy about admitting I am an effective speaker.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

    I’m going to focus on one thing that makes a difference. Then another.  Then another. Some are very small things  — cleaning my husband’s shirts, decluttering a corner of a room, sending a note to my mother or a grandchild. Then there are writing projects: a blog post, a chapter, a writing buddy’s ms. I will focus on doing each one well, as unto God.

  • KristyK

    Today I’m spending one on one time with my 7-year-old daughter. She needs it and so do I.

    • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

      That’s awesome. 

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry


    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Kids seem to be topping the list and that’s where they belong. Good for you. Great for your daughter.

  • http://www.megaphonesites.com Jeremy Santy

    Love your perspective Todd. I’m a ux and visual designer who fights to be creative every day. It’s hard! Thanks for this post. Also, I’m a big fan of your podcast “The Accidental Creative” on iTunes. Thanks for sharing your experience and insight with us!

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Keep up the good fight, Jeremy! We need artists to be engaged. Thanks for your kind words about the podcast – it means a ton.

  • Becky Jenkinson

    This spring our children gave my husband, Dave and me a special gift for our 35th anniversary….a trip to the Philippines, the place I was born to missionary parents.  It had been 37 years since I had been there.  I would like to write to the people we visited there and encourage them in their daily walk with the Lord.  They were such an encouragement to us….I would like to encourage them in some way.  There are many on the list, but I will take it one name at a time!!

    • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

      Becky, Your encouragement to those people in the Philippines will be worth millions. A pastor and denominational executive in his 50’s still pulls out the verse a little old lady gave him when he began ministry as a young man. He still tears up over this encouraging verse after so many years. BTW, both of my brothers went to school at U of Philippines. I was born and raised in Hong Kong.

      Nice meeting you.

      • Becky Jenkinson

        Thank you, Theresa, for your encouraging note!  It didn’t come to my email, so I am glad I scrolled through some of the comments.  Thank you for sharing about the pastor and the note which encouraged him from the little old lady.  I know I have been encouraged by others in this way.  I recently broke my ankle and am recovering (so glad it didn’t happen before our trip to the Philippines!) ….. and I received a sweet note of encouragement and love from a little old lady.  I think I shall call her today and thank her!!!  Thanks again for writing to me!

  • Tina from Texas

    As my mother is facing inoperable lung cancer and I am walking out the realization of what life really means – this truly hits home.  No one is guaranteed a tomorrow.  I personally believe in Psalm 139 and every day of my life has been orchestrated by God.  I want to do what He designed me to do, and not the silly, empty little plans that I have.  My plans will leave me unfulfilled.  As I live each day as if it were my last acting on those dreams He deposited in me – when my last day arrives – I hope I hear Christ say ‘Well done good and faithful servant – you truly received My love for you every day.’

  • http://change.me Oleg Sinitsin

    First of all, what a brilliant observation. I can think of several books on this subject: Purpose Driven Life (R. Warren),  Half Time (B. Buford), Don’t Waster Your Life (J. Piper), The Dream Giver (B. Wilkinson). However, “the graveyard of unfulfilled dreams” is the most eloquent analogy I have heard.

    I can relate to the need of “unnecessary creating” in Steven Covey’s terms as my constant battle for Important over Urgent. If don’t intentionally plan my time Urgent tends to win almost every time. When I accumulate small deposits of Important every day, they usually break through into something original and of good quality.

    I also agree that long term goals without regular contributions don’t have much chance for success. My practical advice on this is to routinely document thoughts, actions and relevant information that helps you move towards the goal. We don’t want to force our creative minds to constantly recall our old ideas – they all should be captured somewhere for easy offline access. By emptying our creative tank we create more room for spontaneous ingenuity.

  • Tdparrish

    A couple weeks ago I decided that in the fall I wanted to start having lunch down at the Malibu Community Labor Exchange once a week in order to get to know the day laborers and practice my Spanish. Recently, I decided I couldn’t wait until the fall (and, honestly, if I waited I probably wouldn’t end up going). So, I told the manager that I would come this week. This past Tuesday I made two lunches and drove over to the MCLE at noon. The manager paired me up with a nanny from Peru and we went outside to a picnic table to eat. We talked about her family and previous life in Peru and why she came to the U.S. I couldn’t understand everything she said about her immigration status, but from what I could gather her legal status is questionable. She said she would have to go back to Peru in a few months if she isn’t able to find any work.I love connecting with people and being a friendly face. If I helped my new amiga from Peru forget about her struggles for an hour then my time spent at the MCLE was worthwhile. It was such a pleasure practicing my Spanish, helping her with her English, and getting to know her story. Today, today I’m going to be a friendly face to everybody, even the ones I’m prone to ignore.

  • Mdelatorre9

    I am going to make sure I continue to seek Truth, and share it with those who choose to listen.

  • Chontzy

    Great wisdom and call to action in your post. Thank you. I’m
    a creative working in a creative career and yet I know there are several personal
    projects that have been put on the backburner in order to focus on my career.
    While lucky to have alignment in my career and creative interests I know that
    to die empty I need to expand and push these nascent internal expressions out
    in the world. I’ve started by brainstorming my goals and project ideas into my
    brand new moleskin!

  • http://www.sheryllackey.com Sheryl

    What  a great article and so timely! Day after day I am “happening” upon articles about tapping into the creativity God has put in me. Yesterday I attended my first blog writer’s workshop after I happened upon a blog witn the info. Today I am in my 1st week of writing a book that has been in me for a while. After 3 years of major transition in every area of my life and 20 plus journals, I’m putting pen to paper and fingers to my laptop and doing it! I loved my former life as a TV journalist but I like the new me better! A woman who embraces life fully! I’ve fearlessly stepped into this great adventure with God; the good, the hard, the random and most of all the divine that comes when we surrender! I’d love to read the book, The Accidental Creative. It sounds like my life in this season:)

  • Derrick Garland Coy

    I am selecting photos for my manuscript which I sent off to the publishers last week. This will be my first book at age 67, and it will be published in the fall. It was on my bucket list for many years!

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Congrats! What a huge accomplishment! (Make sure you do something to mark the moment and celebrate.)

  • http://wewannado.com Ryan K

    I have always disliked death questions like “What will people say at your funeral?” since I won’t be around after my death, but the post’s question strikes a chord with my view on life: will I use the strengths God gave me to build the kingdom or not? (Matthew 25:14-30)

    To make a difference with my strengths, I am taking time to invest and mentor in those around me whether it be work, home, church, or friends. I really enjoy listening to people and challenging them in their lives.

    I am also exploring ways to use my free time to develop skills and work opportunities closely aligned with my strengths. I have taken time to develop a unique website that I hope will help enrich people’s lives and I have also sought out ways to get involved in organizations that are aligned with my interests.

    Can’t wait to read the book. Win or lose I’ll find a way to get it. Humans shouldn’t be robots doing the same task daily. We should be creative people who strive to serve with our strengths.

    Tweeted the link via @ramblinknight:twitter 

  • Marcia Richards

    I’ll always have a list of a few longer-term goals, but on a daily basis I do everyting in my power to move toward those goals. My family and my writing are the most important forces in my life and are those to which I give everything I have everyday, saving a little love and care for myself, of course. I write until I can write no more. Until anything flowing onto paper is gibberish from becoming vacant of any coherent thoughts. My grandchildren live with my husband and I. They replenish me with love and laughter until I’m so full I can let it spill back onto them in the form of attention, creative games and all sort of playfulness. At the end of the day, when all is quiet, I give my husband everything I have left-intimate conversation, interest in his thoughts and the dreams we share. The longer-term goals are listed on my blog as my Life List. Along with myself, my partners in this project and our readers help me maitain my accountability. I believe in creating a fully and productive life, over and over each day, for every new day offers new possibilites.
    What a wonderful, thought-provoking post. Thanks.

  • Rick Yuzzi

    Interesting way to put it. Makes you want to get stuff done (and especially the important stuff) when you put it in that perspective.

  • JoeRadomski

    “…a divide can emerge… good, bad or ugly.” I always likened your divide to ‘riding the fence,’ observing  the universe, but never really diving into one side or the other. Your perception of angst and discontent is spot on. “Riding the rail” gets tiring. 

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your observations and tips. The world, intimate and at large, deserves our full attention; and to be empty maybe really is to be fulfilled and at peace, that space after we exhale. Thanks, Todd.

  • Mike, Christ Follower

    I truly like the phrase ‘Dying Empty’. The phrase is a paralell to Mark 8:34 – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. With the goal to die empty you are focused in living a fulfilled and abundant life you were created to live. By denying yourself and following Jesus you will discover who you are and who you are separated to, to live out fully a sold out life with purpose to bring God glory.

  • Karen Jordan

    I love this idea. Thanks for sharing your insights! “… set regular time to create things for the sheer joy of it.”

  • Jan Culpepper

    This post will preach! What a great goal – die empty! Seems like we were given the perfect example in the one who emptied himself for us. After years of “wanting” to write but doing nothing about it, I’ve joined a writing group that is making me accountable to them and to my dream. One step at a time . . .

  • wtstanto

    Today I’m going on a date with my wife.

  • http://www.liftdevelopment.com Dave Yankowiak

    What I am doing today to make a difference is the promise to myself to be more spontaneous. As a freelance web biz owner, I need to stop working so hard to try to become “rich” but instead do things RIGHT NOW to live a rich life. That doesn’t mean doing away with all structure and responsibility, but leaving flexibility in my schedule to try new things, push the limits of my ideas and creativity, and heck just do fun and meaningful stuff with my getting-old-too-quickly kids.

    Super excited to read Todd’s book, by the way. I’ve been a big fan of the Accidental Creative podcast which is always a nice shot of honest, to-the-point inspiration.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Wow – thanks Dave. {blushing} 

  • Bnbphillips

    Today I kept children for a friend who had to work, tutored a struggling 15 year old, dropped four bags of clothes at a thrift store, and delivered 10 bears to a battered-women’s group to use in their domestic violence response kits.  Tonight I will balance my checkbook and fold my laundry so that my long weekend can be spent on one of  the dozens of art projects rolling around in my head.  I don’t think I will die empty, unless I live to be 120, but it won’t be for lack of trying.    My favorite quote from this article was, ” Once I realized that I only have influence over the work that’s in
    front of me, I stopped trying to control things that were beyond my
    grasp.” priceless.

  • Scottago

    Thank you for writing those words. Just a few shapes on a page and the unseen forces in me are recruited for action. It took me many years and tears to learn that I have incredible potential. (hint: the evidence isn’t outside of you… Job salary etc). Now your words helped me to inspire me to actions. Thank you again.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Thank you for reading and sharing a bit of your journey. Very true that the typical marks of success mean little about the real value you bring to the world. Wishing you the best!

  • turner_bethany

    Love that phrase die empty. I have heard these ideas discussed before, but that phrase really makes it come alive. 

  • TamiM

    Ever have a phrase that you are reading just jump out and begin to flash?  Todd’s comment “Once I realized that I only have influence over the work that’s in front of me, I stopped trying to control things that were beyond my grasp.”….was like that for me.  Step 1 will be to let go of what I can’t control and step 2 will be to take a step in the direction that I want to go in by completing an writing excercise I’ve been putting off.  I will take another step tomorow and just keep walking…..

  • http://twitter.com/philrhodeslaw philrhodeslaw

    I’m going to set aside a little time each week this summer to refocus my solo legal practice.  I really feel the angst you talk about between what I am doing and what I want to be doing.  Refocusing my practice will allow me the creativity to actively engage my clients in their matters.  Plus, it will allow me time to do more projects focused on adoption and human trafficking.

  • Doug Murphy

    Reading this really pushes me in the idea of planting a church…I have been wrestling with this for a while, and I’m feeling like this may be just what I need

  • Barbara @TherExtras

    I’m going for the ‘empty’ ending or re-phrased, I will have done all that God has planned for me in this life.  I don’t think I do anything for the good without His hand in it.  

  • Wendy

    This is a very timely & challenging post. It’s something we all need to hear, especially today as we realize the year 2011 is half over, and we’re starting on the second half of yet another fast-disappearing year.

    In answer to the question what am I going to do today to make a difference? In my own life, I am going to prioritize setting aside time for my own creativity, to create things for the sheer joy of it, as Todd Henry recommends. The tyranny of the urgent, of the short-term deadlines, of the long, practical, never-ending to-do lists, ALWAYS ends up triumphing over long-term dreams &  big creative ideas.

    If we keep saying we’ll get to the big ideas later, when all the loose ends have been tied up… well, that day may never come. Would love to get a copy of this book. Based on this post, it will be very motivational for major change.

  • ProfessorZedd

    This reminded of a story I once heard and that’s stayed with me. It was about two people who died and went to heaven. St Peter met them at the gate of heaven and took the first person to a huge warehouse. It was filled with everything imaginable from great relationships to fancy cars, travel and more. “What is this?” ask the first person. “This is what your life could’ve been like.” responded St Peter. He then led  the next person to another warehouse. It was empty. Puzzled, the next person said “Where’s my stuff; did I do something wrong, did I miss out?” “Au contraire,” responded St Peter, “you took advantage of every opportunity given to you. You lived life to the fullest.” He ‘died empty’.

  • Cathi Judy

    I’m going to try to do something creative every day. ‘Cause if I stimulate my my brain, then I will stimulate my soul. And if I stimulate my soul I feel I will do that much more for the greater good, (and myself)  and hopefully then I can “Die Empty”.

  • Mjb62235

    At the age of 76, I am going to continue to use my artistic talents to stay creative and mentally young.  I am going to share my enthusiasm for living this moment and not dwell on the past which can never be relived.  I do not fear death as we are all born to eventually die but I will know that I didn’t die without trying to pursue my dreams, even if some not fullfilled.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Yes! Love this mindset of looking forward. This moment is what we have.

  • http://craigtowens.com/ Craig Owens

    Todd wrote that, “My only job—each and every day—is to empty myself, to do my daily work,
    and to try as much as possible to leave nothing unspoken, uncreated,
    unwritten.” But the reason why I would like “The Accidental Creative” is because I want all that I empty myself of to actually STICK with others. I want to expand my blog writing, my speaking, and eventually write a book. But I don’t want to write/speak just anything, I want to write and speak things that will be life-changing for other people!

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      It’s the only reason to write, no? :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaraRassler Sara Jane Rassler

    Today, and for the last three days, I have decided to push aside the typical summer of a college student and create some stuff that really matters to me. A friend is starting to record music professionally and I offered to create her cover art, website, and social profiles. Basically, I am managing her entire online and graphical presence. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than these last few days. I’ve gotten less sleep than normal, consumed way more caffeine than should be legal, created some awesome stuff and completely emptied myself into each project idea. This post fits right into my life right now and I’d love a copy of this book!

  • generalkat

    The Latin phrase, Carpe Diem–Seize the day–certainly sums up the concept of “die empty.”  It resonances to me that life is too short for just frivolous fillers of time and those creative moments are the essence of our creativity.

    • Jmhardy97

      Great point. We all have a short time to make a big difference.


  • John E. Smith

    Thanks to both Michael and Todd ~ to Michael for hosting this interesting little post and to Todd for writing it;)

    So what am I going to do today to make that difference?

    Since I feel strongly that we make our greatest contributions by being consistent, effective, and congruent, I will work on me.  A better me will do better things for other people, which in turn allows and encourages them to do better things for others.

    I see three specific things to do right now:

    1)  I have already tweeted a link to this page, but in addition, I am drafting a blog post based on Todd’s message.  I saw a very direct link to our tendency to procrastinate and defer.  I particularly liked the observation that we find it easier to fantasize about doing something than take the very real risk of actually doing it. 

    Godin, with his repeated calls for us all to “ship”, understands this as well.   I just need to find my “twist” to add some value to what is already a good little piece.
    Then I’ll share that blogpost, because that is a big share of who I am and what I do.  Sharing is collaborative learning in action.

    2)  Your other comments to stop putting off that big project fell on my sensitive ears.  I have a natural proclivity for hedging my  bets, keeping all my options open, and otherwise defusing my energies into a million small pieces.  Your “gentle nudge” reminds me that I need to create some examples of my presentational and facilitative skills to help market me.  Up to this point . . .  well, so many things to do, sites to visit, and so on.  Even the inclination to share, valuable as it may be, can get in the way of more direct production.

    3)  I am going to take some reflective time to consider how I am sabotaging myself “one day at a time”, as you mentioned in your post.  We have a brand new day each and every day – but that is no guarantee that we will use that day wisely.  I need to be more intentional. 

    Now I know this is not “action” in the normal sense of the word, but I find reflection essential to clear the veil away from my daily activities.

    Gee, maybe I should read your book first:)

    Thanks so much for an engaging and stimulating post.


    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Love this, John. Sometimes we stand opposed to ourselves because we’re afraid of the consequences of success or we hedge our bets to prevent having to deal with either failure or success, when the answer is often to just do. Best wishes!

  • Anonymous

    Today to make a difference I am intentionally visiting blogs and offering a word of encouragement. I want to die empty and unless I change something I probably will die with something still left undone. That thought scares me. I better get moving or else. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book. Sounds amazing.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Tiffany, please don’t take “die empty” as a kind of curse or something that is fear-inducing. It’s actually a gift of freedom to realize that all you need to do is what you can do today, and wait to be re-filled. Make sense?

      • Anonymous

        Thanks, yes, that makes sense. Each day is a gift and I love the idea of gift of freedom. :)

  • Anonymous

    Today I’m working on a message about freedom in Christ.  Really praying, meditating on the best way to help those who attend understand our need to reject legalism for true spirituality.  Having trouble reducing it down to about 30-40 minutes.  If you’re reading this, please pray for me and our church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaypeemackim Jonathan Kim

    After working as a scientist all my life I am trying to turn on teen-age minds to science.  I just started and hope to be successful. At least I am giving it a go.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Wonderful – there’s little more important in this world than building into young minds. Thanks for what you’re doing.

  • http://www.christopherneiger.com/blog Chris Neiger

    Todd, thanks for this post, it’s really encouraging. There are some big things on my life “to-do” list and they can seem really overwhelming sometimes, but I love the idea of emptying ourselves everyday and not worrying about days that don’t yet exist. I’ve started making short lists of projects to accomplish so I can better manage the big projects later on. 
    I really like your point about not leaving anything behind in regard to relationships. Very challenging.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Thanks Chris! Yes, I think the relational aspect is the most challenging in all of this – and really challenges me on a daily basis –  and has especially had the most impact on how I interact with our kids. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1453890794 Beth K. Vogt

    This concept of “die empty” has stopped me in my tracks. How would I live differently if my goal was to die empty?
    What have I done today to make a difference? 
    I spent time with a friend. I listened to her and affirmed her–and then I surprised her with an impromptu shopping spree. She walked out of the store with new clothes and I walked out filled up to overflowing with the joy of giving “just because.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1558254119 Linda Frahm

    If I’m going to die empty, I’d better get busy!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Fedders-Brouwer/100000210427442 Lisa Fedders Brouwer

    I think I’m finally on the right track when it comes to fulfilling my dreams and not dying with a pile of regrets in that respect.  Where I need to empty myself during the day is with my kids and my husband.  There are important things, like “I love you” and “I’m so proud of you”, that get left unsaid during the day.  Why do I keep it inside?  It’s not filling me up so I should be using these things to fill them up!  Thanks Todd for giving new meaning to dying empty!  I’m going to go write those simple words on a sticky note and put it on my bathroom mirror right now!!

  • Will Simpson

    I let go of something that has been bothering me today. I forgave somebody and decided to work harder on some things that will benefit my family in the long run.  

    What did I do today to make a difference?  I cleaned out my heart so I can fill it with something more positive.  

    Thanks for the post.  

  • Mason Stanley

    If I’m dying on empty the most impacting difference I can make is to leave behind a daily legacy. I will encourage, love, admonish, and serve all those that I can in my daily life. I will not deny compassion from those hurting nor will I with hold correction from those in need of it’s painful grace. I will pour out myself not worrying how much is left, but rather allowing God to use every last drip. 

    If mother necessity is the mother all inventions I can not allow this day to die with the best of intentions!

    • Mason Stanley

      Thank you

  • Krissi

    Interesting post. I had not looked at it from this perspective, but it makes sense. I am going to reread this post & make a concious effort to step out with my ideas more and more. I have just been talking today about a friend who has taken a step in toward letting some creativity out & the positive effect it seems to be having on her.
    I see the wording “Die empty” not as an end to dreaming, but finishing out life on this earth having lived each day to its fullest.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      “I see the wording “Die empty” not as an end to dreaming, but finishing out life on this earth having lived each day to its fullest.” – YES! Exactly right, Krissi. Thanks for your comment.

  • http://twitter.com/oarolin Oscar

    WOW, good point of view. This is really a mind set issue, I have met people that are scared to share their ideas because someone else might take them, but I have also met people that will give without expecting anything. I just want to be able to express my ideas that will help and change people. I had made time for everything else but had never thought about setting time aside to empty myself for the day, thanks.

  • Jobaker

    This I needed today.  I haven’t written in my journal in days..even had those little thoughts of “Oh, I should write this down.” and didn’t.  The other day I had the idea of writing my journal with my girls in mind (12 and 15).  Just in case I never become a published author..which I’ve dreamed of becoming…I could impact my own girls’ lives..maybe later. I can’t do much of anything with them right now! I think I will also spend some time just LISTENING to them tonight…oh what a hard thing that is for me to do! One day this week, I tried the “so you feel” and repeat what was said back to my 12 year old…you know…the proof that I WAS listening..and it didn’t work. In fact,  she asked me why I was repeating everything she said?  I guess I need to get out my Lysa T’s book and finish reading it…

  • Jmhardy97

    Dying empty is the perfect way to explain how someone should live their life. Is that not how our Lord and Savior died. He left it all on the cross for us. He gave us all that he had. Great post.


  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    For me, on this particular day, I chose to write my son. Of all the things I write in a week, that’s the most important “article” I post (with a stamp even). Good, stimulating piece, Todd. Thanks for guesting today (is that even a word?).

  • Rodneywelsh

    As a thirteen year youth ministry vet, ive dreamed of helping small churches build teams to develop meaningful youth ministry. Today i will put some goals in writing.

  • Michael

    Serve so that, like the Apostle, I might “save some”. I cannot influence everyone, but I can lead “some” to Christ and die empty 

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  • wusom

    I like it very  much ! thank you.wusom web

  • Bainbridge Wright

    I want to be a writer, so I will find time to write something every day. I’ll start with a journal and go from there. In my journal I will record the things that happen to me and the things I think God is telling me.

    I will brainstorm ideas for books and columns and blog posts, and I will follow through on them. I will work my best ideas into publishable material.

    I will read, watch and listen to things worthy of my time, and I will draw inspiration from them.

    I will not stop dreaming, but I will work on making my dreams come true. This is the major difference between Current Bainbridge and Future Bainbridge.

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  • Rabrooks1

    What a wonderful insight.There is a prophetic psalm that says, “the zeal of thine house, has consumed me.” Jesus was all consumed with his mission. Paul speaks of emptying himself on behalf of the Gospel.

    Thank you for stimulting us to be better.

  • Melody DuBois

    Hmmm… “Die Empty”. Sounds like another way of saying “Live (REALLY live) each day.” I needed to hear this… been putting off a number of creative projects in order to “get things in order” when what I really need to do is live.

    And by the way, I only gave a cursory glance at the book (and offer) … until I watched the trailer! Now the book is definitely on my “to read” list (which is to say, the trailer worked!)

  • Sherri

    I have a plaque on my office wall that says this:
                 “When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have 
                 not a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.'”
                                                                                                                            Erma Bombeck

    This is always a reminder to me NOT to focus on just the big things. It is so often the little things (talents) that make a big difference; things like taking cookies to a new neighbor to welcome them to the neighborhood, cleaning up the kitchen at your office, making a card to put on someone’s desk just to let them know they are appreciated. We each have major talents – creative areas – that are often associated with our professions – or what we would like to be our professions – but we also have other things that we can do. 

    James 4:17 tells us not to miss an opportunity to do good. It doesn’t say “if it’s a really big, life changing thing that will amaze the world”. It just says any opportunity to do good. I think we need to remember that as Christians we are not responsible for the outcomes of these opportunities, only for being obedient. This can mean spending time with our families and kids, calling a friend, doing something just for the enjoyment of it (part of abundant life), anything that moves us to creative joy! Anything good comes from God – big or small. There is great freedom and joy in this kind of obedience. 

    Sorry this is so long, but God has really been working on me about this very thing lately. Thank you for this post. I am looking forward to reading your book. Today I am also going to:

    -complete the application to submit my novel to a writing contest
    -go welcome my new neighbor
    -start to design a cross-stitch pattern

    Thank you so much!

  • Pam Kraiss

    “Unnecessary creating”  are the two words which made so much sense to me  after reading “Why I Hope to Die Empty”. I understand better why I am giddily happier than I’ve been in months. Two weeks ago I joined a writers’ small group which meets in a coffee shop on Saturday mornings.  The agenda includes chit chat, free write, and then head to your own selected corner to write for an hour.  I’ve already finished one article, and today start putting together the pieces of a second idea which I’ve carried around for months.  Your words  describe what happens when unexpressed ideas are never executed because they do not fit into the necessary routine of a job.   I’m one of  those Wisconsin teachers who recently spent time walking around the magnificent capital building in Madison next to dairy farmers and firemen.  That walk now just adds to my frustration and inner knowing that the public school system is in need of major changes.        “Why I Hope to Die Empty”  pointed purging light at a major change I need to make in my daily routine.  Thanks.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Fantastic! So glad that you’ve come upon the same concepts and that they are working for you. Best wishes on all your efforts!

  • William Kevin

    I will leave a legacy for my children by completing the writing project I keep talking about. I’ve always thought I was a “creative”–but based on my second book that has been digitally flopping around in my computer for 4 years–I have little evidence. The ideas in Todd’s book may be the shoehorn I need to finally slip into a disciplined creative lifestyle. I have a distinct sense of a logjam that wants to burst out, but I cannot seem to dislodge that first plank.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    One day at a time! That’s great secret to manage anxieties in our life. Just like dying empty, I would like to live a life in its fullness. As a head guy, I had many times focused on building and planning for the future. Now, I am learning to the true value of the present. It is exhausting to live in a world that never exists. I am trying not to allow a defeating attitude to throw me off my goals, one of which was to try and make very day the best day of my life.

    • Sherri

      I think the phrase you used…”living in a world that doesn’t exist” is fabulous!  We are not promised tomorrow, only today, this minute. If we lived every minute of every day as if it was all we had, what would those minutes look like? I think I will post that phrase on my board to remind me to take advantage of every one of them. Thank you!


      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks Sherri! You are welcome. As you say, the future is always elusive and abstract.

        Subject: [mhyatt] Re: Why I Hope to Die Empty

  • Colin

    I guess that has been my problem…focusing on the outcome, instead of the action steps.  I see in some instances where I am empty myself by giving time to hearing someone’s problems and then being able to invest in them spiritual and mental sense.  But when it comes to my goals and dreams, I just let ideas come in and forget about them.  

    I am going to start using my note taking app to put the ideas down to revisit and use towards getting to my “light at the end of the tunnel.”

    Thanks Michael and can’t wait to hear you speak AT MY FIRST CATALYST!

    Colin (@ColinH80)

  • http://www.tarabarthel.com Tara Barthel

    Today I am going to make a difference by enjoying a combination of rest and work as I serve my family, church, and community. Specifically, I may help my coauthor to launch our new blog: Redeeming Church Conflicts.  

    BTW, our new blog is tied to  the book that Baker Books will release on May 1, 2012 and, even though it was my second published book, I still wrote our proposal pretty much line-for-line from your “How to Write a Killer Book Proposal” ebook. So thanks for that! Oh, and I did an hour long radio interview this past Thursday with your “What Every Author Should Know About Radio and Television Interviews” ringing in my ears. So thanks again!

    I truly appreciate your ministry, Mr. Hyatt.

    Blessings and joy,
    Tara B.

    I’m also giving myself a task to buy this book on July 9 if I’m not one of the 50 winners. Looks like a great read!

  • Maciej Liziniewicz

    To die empty is to finish your life with the sound of an empty glass. For loads of people sight of an empty glass is the one that trigger the picture of not filled with liquid empty glass vessel. For me empty glass is a picture of fully used content and wealth of what that glass might have. 
    The empty glass with drops inside and outside it sound like – after all like the liquid is gone from it – it is firm, pure and cutting edge of telling others – “I am empty, I have poured out whatever I had” manifesto.

    Die empty and make a sound! – people will notice that whatever you gave makes a benefit of you sounding clearly.

    For me to die empty is a progress of step by step collecting “liquid” and pouring out  “liquid”. My dreams, my projects all is me yet to be given and realised.
    My struggle is to make priorities for now to pour it out – I would love to do everything at once – but I can so now the motivation is to focus and pour out your “liquid” drop by drop, giving it a quality so at the end I will be joyful and empty.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Love the image of the empty glass! Thanks so much for sharing.

      • Maciej Liziniewicz

        My pleasure. I guess that brief intro to your book awaken some hidden illustrations deep within me. Good luck with your book promo and hope I will have  a chance to read it ;)

  • http://www.jeffdolan.com Jeff Dolan

    Did you consider Die Empty for a book title? Seems like an attention grabber!

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Maybe the next book? :) But those are the final two words of the book, so maybe it’s a kind of cliff hanger…

  • http://twitter.com/eccle0412 Jackie Anderson

    I am off to work this lovely warm Saturday. I intentionally desire to notice and find value in people. Thanks for the reminder, the check on why am I discontent?  am I divided in dome way?  Good words! 

  • David Philips

    Todd, Thanks for your honest and frank words. A sense of calm runs in my heart when I think about leaving it all on the battle field. I really identify with the divide between what we think we should be doing and what we are actually doing. I feel as though I can use that as a barometer in my life… When I feel the divide, its time to re-evaluate my schedule.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Excellent, David! Simply identifying that divide often makes the next steps easier. At the heart of it is the lie that you have no choice in the matter.

  • Elizabethacarr

    Thank-you, thank-you. My eyes are swelling with tears of relief knowing it’s more than just a passion, it’s a requirement for me to follow my dreams and live from my heart. xo

  • http://joeburnham.com joeburnham

    I have, what I think has been a fantastic idea brewing for a few months now. I’ve done some work on it, have a ton more ideas stored up in Evernote, but I keep asking myself when? How? I’ve recently launched a new career in a brand new field, so I’m on a insanely steep learning curve there, I’m a single dad who spends 35-40 hours a week actively engaged with my son. Is it possible? Is there a way I could tune my life to maximize my hours and make this creative project a reality? Here’s hoping!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    The question you’re asking is especially poignant to me right now.  I just lost my father and step=father, on the same day this week.  With that load of stress and grief, and all the questions that come with it, I am asking myself how can I make a difference in people’s lives.

    My answert:  be more intentional with my family, especially my wife and kids.  They are a top priority for me, and I will make that increasingly more obvious.

  • Eileen Pasishnek

    To be very honest, I didn’t know what I was going to do today that would take me to the “die empty” state.  Since our 43 year old son passed away last year, I have lost so much of my creative energy and every day I force myself to find a reason to do anything, even though I know that God continues to “push” me along and sends others to encourage me.  I am thankful I have had my writing.  For some reason, I have moments of inspiration when I see the “good” and I see “God” in everyday “coincidences” to let me know there really is a God and He cares about my broken heart and the big gaping hole that is now resident within me and so, when He shows up in unexpected surprises, I then share these with others and from the feedback I get, I know that God has crept in and allowed me to encourage them…….but then “I” feel discouraged again. I was feeling that way today when I decided to read your blog.  I just want to say “thank you” and to let you know that God used your words to pierce the dark cloud of despair and remind me that life is short……I can’t change the past……I will weep and then I will press forward…..my son is reminding me, through your blog, that this is what he wants me to do.  He was my greatest cheerleader in life and so I have determined that, TODAY, I will venture back into my studio, pick up my paint brush, load it up with all the colors of the rainbow, and paint a new picture full of hope and reconciliation with the life I have been given.  Another “coincidental” appointment with what matters.  God’s message to me today. I am learning that “Words” are powerful and when they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, they speak volumes and with great clarity!  God has found a great messenger in YOU!  Thank you for being faithful to the call.  I am sure you will “die empty”.

  • Marcia Laycock

    I was in tears as I read this. I’ve been diagnosed with Cancer and will be having chemo and radiation soon. So dying has been on my mind. A lot. I’ve realized, since being diagnosed, a lot of the things I yearned for – best seller status for my first novel, for instance – pale in comparison to the unexpected – like letters and emails from readers whose lives have been changed by reading it. I’ve been pondering a lot lately about what God wants me to do, in this place of waiting, in this time of trips to cancer clinics and hospital waiting rooms. This post makes me realize there is room for creativity even there – there is always time to engage in a conversation or write the beginning of a blog post or tell the nurse who had a hard time finding a vein that she did a good job. Small things that can add up to a day of being emptied. I will keep this post in the forefront of my thinking for some time I’m sure. Thank you.
    Here’s one I wrote a short time ago – http://marcialaycock.blogspot.com/

  • Pam

    I totally agree with you.  We must give ourselves totally to our families, friends, communities, etc.  If we do, our world would probably be a better place for all.

  • Pavel

    Today I am going to unleash my creativity and start recording a video for COMMON Pitch – creative competition of ideas that bold enough to make our planet a better place. I want my idea to be heard, I want it to become a social business, I want to be a part of solution, not a problem.


    For years I have desired to write a book. Brushing the manuscript now. Few years back I discovered the creative writing talent in me. Coming across Christian Writers Guild in Colorado Forest 9 years ago, I still long to generate $2,000 to register for the 2-year training. So many dreams I ‘ve got written out, but I guess I have been lackadaisical on pushing them. I don’t want to enrich the already stupendously wealthy graveyard. God help me…and man, help me, too!

  • http://twitter.com/lindseytip lindseytip

    I love the concept of “unneccesary creating” as a means of emptying myself every day. Gratitude, in my opinion, is another key to doing so.  That is how I hope to make a difference today – by walking in gratitude and by listening to, serving, and enjoying the people I am with.

  • http://twitter.com/lindseytip lindseytip

    I love the concept of “unnecessary creating” as a means of dying empty. I believe gratitude to be a key as well. That’s how I intend on making a difference today – by practicing gratitude and listening to, serving, and enjoying the people in my life. Simple as that.

  • Vania Hardy

    This is a terrific tip for self-management, especially for creative people. It definitely meets me where I am in my spiritual journey. I’m a college student who’s between semesters right now, and I determined earlier in the year that I would devote this summer to working on certain endeavors (particularly intensive personal Bible study and keeping a consistent blog). I’m learning that (a) the creative process, or even just the process of accomplishing a goal, is A LOT of work, and (b) actually doing the work keeps the creative energy alive and ever-flowing.

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    I love the video about Todd Henry’s book/website/life mission—It’s accidentally creative on purpose! ;-)

    To answer his question: Since reading Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I’ve been working on making a difference each day as part of writing my life story. For me, it involves being in tune with my personal values, and seeing how I can improve my life through improving the lives of others. A portion of this involves building stronger relationships through watering the camels of others.

    And the neat thing is that this is only the beginning.

  • http://teenidentity.com Tasra

    Love the video, the concept, and the book. I just returned from a 4 day solitary retreat contemplating my mission and method for changing the world. Now I just need strategies like Todd’s new book to help me start implementing on a regular basis!

  • Ukdoodledandy@yahoo.com

    Loved this post. It’s made me take a good hard look at myself and I now want to start everything I’ve been meaning to at once! But, that’s not the point is it? I’m going to make time daily for my unnecessary creativity and diary time for other projects and get them done.u

  • Justinrickard

    Light a candle, play some of my blissfully favourite music, crank up the laptop and thank God for being alive and well as I write the next 750 words of my book – now that sounds great, and challenging as well.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Sounds like a plan! When I was writing the book I had a 1,000 word/day mandate on myself, and sometimes the words were TERRIBLE, but if I hadn’t kept pushing I wouldn’t have arrived at something I loved in the end. Keep at it, Justin!

  • susan wright

    If I die today, yes there will be unexecuted dreams and ideas. I am just now living beyond my comfort zone. Posts like these remind me to get out and live in each moment. Here are my answers (and commitment to myself) to the questions in the 2nd to last paragraph: Project – papers for consecration, Conversation – son, and Idea – ebook. 

  • Melissa – Mel’s World

    What a great question…trying to make every day count, giving my best all the time, while trying to find time to also dream, think, and be present…what a great question…gonna have to think about this one a little more. Sounds like a great book, hope to read it soon!

  • s faust

    What a great, encouraging post and exactly what I needed at this moment.  Today I will finish an outline that has been haunting me.  Thank you!

  • http://www.BartLeger.com Bart Leger

    Appropriate timing for this post. I have had my blog template installed and ready for four months with no content. I am determined now to keep it updated at least four times a week.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Yes! That’s a great place to start, Bart. Go for it.

      • http://www.BartLeger.com Bart Leger

        Thanks. Looking forward to the book.

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    Wow, that’s a powerful challenge. I’ve recently entered into a more creative season of life and I’m loving it. I’m finally working on that novel that’s been patiently waiting to be born for years. To fuel the creative process I’ve started engaging more in photography and visiting art museums. Sometimes though I feel like I’m wasting time and not “doing” anything. I appreciate the permission to live life a little more outside the box, sometimes you just need to hear it’s okay to live more like you want to than the way you think you’re supposed to!

  • http://jancoxabetterway.wordpress.com Jan Cox

    Today is nighttime here. But this week I will be making a difference to 15 -30 children. I am organizing a vacation Bible school at our church for the week. It is for kids 4-12, from 9-12 in the morning and it is free. So this Grandma will be busy, laughing and having lots of fun while teaching Christ to kids. Isn’t that great! Tomorrow I have to do last minute touches and planning to be ready for Monday. After that week with a week off – then I head on a mission trip to Poland with children again for two weeks.
    By the time I come back I will be empty – but full.

  • Jmhardy97

    Creative problem solving is the key to leadership success of the future. Look at the growth in creative organizations like Apple. Behavior changes are the key to right brain thinking. Focusing on effectiveness is a great point. I think it was John Maxwell that says garbage in, garbage out and the point was made in the video that junk food in, junk food out when it comes to thinking.


  • http://www.facebook.com/jessegarner Jesse Garner

    Man, this was a great post. Thanks for sharing it. I was immediately inspired to do a couple small projects in my office to make it more warm, welcoming, and “me.” I’ve been putting off a couple creative ideas with pictures…and as of yesterday, I’ve got a print ready to be framed that I’m excited about putting up after this weekend. I’m thinking about putting a small terrarium together as well. Thanks for that little push to make the place I spend a lot of my time that much more welcoming to me.

  • Anonymous

    My career requires constant creativity! I love it, but it can be so challenging at times to keep up that pace. Even the promo video for the book was a help. This looks like a must read! I literally sat down to write a blog post, came up empty and then saw this post. I was humbled to think that rather than “have” a problem with creativity, I might actually “be” the problem with it!

    I am young and full of dreams. It seems like a scary world to try and put your dreams on the line for millions to instantly evaluate and judge. However, I too want to die having given my best for the Lord and for those I have the opportunity to influence.Thanks for the post, Michael!

  • Heather Hammond

    Todd’s “die empty” insight propelled me towards a richer reading of Philippians 2, the “Christ Hymn” about Jesus emptying himself.  One part of emptying myself–i.e. making a difference today–means making sure the good ideas of the 1800 people in my organization can be heard. My next step is to teach core staff to invite, inquire, and listen generously. A second make-a-difference-move is personal: turn the glimmers in my journals into real articles, useful to others.

  • Anonymous

    An interesting perspective but, for me, to “die empty” sounds somewhat a sad state. I’ve always migrated toward….. the enjoy the journey, finishing is not always the best outcome.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      I get that – and I think we have the same perspective. I’m not advocating frenetic, “better not mess it up” kind of activity. Rather, a simple recognition that deep engagement with what’s in front of us today is the most effective way to live rather than worrying about all the things that are hovering “out there” somewhere. All we can do is engage today, and if we do then we are on the journey. 

      • http://sunbelttexas.blogspot.com/ Dan Elliott

        I’m with you, thanks for putting up the post.

  • http://profiles.google.com/pastorbradgilbert Pastor Brad Gilbert

    Interesting topic, looking forward to reading it. Thanks.

  • Tony Matos

    Timing is a large part of life. At the cottage starting your life planning ebook and now reading this. Great time to pray and determine next phase of life as I round the century mark

  • Patty

    What great inspiration at the start of the day! Thank you Mr. Hyatt for sharing Todd’s guest blog spot.

  • http://twitter.com/Maria_Keckler Maria Keckler

    Everything you’ve said here resonates with me — loud and clear, particularly your observation:  ” a pattern with creative and productive people that if we
    neglect our ideas for too long, a divide can emerge between what we
    think we should be doing and what we’re actually doing. This creates an
    angst, or a perpetual state of discontent that prevents us from being
    able to fully engage with our priorities” 

    From experience, I can say that you are right on. 

    Fortunately,  I came to a similar conclusion last year and can say that I have been able to switch that pattern this year–slowly.  I feel more invigorated than I have in years by the sheer intentionality of setting time aside to create!  In fact, I decided to take a one month sabbatical this June to put legs to a project that had lived only in my dreams. Thought it was a financial sacrifice, I’m thrilled to see what is taking shape and how my energy and perspective have changed!  I did notice, however, that my creativity tank was pretty low.  I can’t wait to get your book! Thank you for writing it!   Maria

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Fantastic, Maria! Congrats on taking those steps!

  • http://twitter.com/BibleLover K.C. Hartman

    I am volunteering time fixing personal computers. I also help in various community efforts like “Painting the Corridor”.

  • Carolyn Fisher

    Wow! What a fabulous idea! Your video has so many levels! Every picture evoked a thought process for me! I wanted to pause it and take each “Picture thought” and put it to action or write a daily blog about it! You thought one step ahead of the viewer. Brilliant and your piece not only “Talked ” about creativity, it was exemplifying it! It WAS creativity!
    Today I plan to wear a piece of clothing, jewelry or footwear or something that reminds me to shift my energy to a different source. For example, If I am reading, I will shift to talking about what I am reading, etc. Cooking what I am reading. Your thoughts dont change your actions, Your actions change your thoughts! Carolyn Fisher

  • Bill Horn

    I’ve been more diligent recently about writing down every creative idea I have (good, bad, or otherwise) in my journal. Some turn out to be great song ideas or blog posts, and some amount to nothing. By doing this, I am keeping that outlet open for my brain, allowing myself to think creatively about the world around me, which in turn helps me to stay in that mode more often and promotes even more ideas.

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Totally agree, Bill. Often ideas are fleeting and something that we think we’ll always remember is gone in minutes. It’s important to write these observations down. Even if one out of ten is useful, it’s worth it!

  • Anonymous

    I am going to start memorizing another Bible-Chapter and I am going to start writing a new song. Things I love but haven’t done for a long time. But, I am going to do it tomorrow, because it is pretty late now and tomorrow is my free day!

  • Cekeroth

    Today I’m going to finish the last piece of paperwork to complete my dossier to adopt another child. I am a single mom to a daughter adopted from Ethiopia and, despite uncertainties and fears about the future, I can only step out in faith and do what I feel God has called me to do.
    Today I’m also writing the first pages of my thesis for a master’s in international health. I will be finished in September and have been praying about how God wants me to use my writing/editing skills (my primary vocation) to improve the health and well-being of people in the developing world, particularly those who are most vulnerable.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share!

  • Barry Smith

    One of the most inspirational things I have read in quite some time.  Everyday I sit at my current job and mentally wander off thinking about the things I want to do.  It is time to start doing them!  What am I doing today – I think a good start would be to delete the all the “Season Pass” Entries on my Direct TV DVR that do absolutely nothing to improve my life.  Thanks Todd.  Can’t wait to read the book.

  • EV

    Today I  continued working on an inspirational, positive, faith-based book I began writing following my one and a half year old son’s death last year to cancer; a book I am repeatedly led to finish, but in my grief procrastinate.  Todd Henry, I thank you for sharing your thoughts, inspiring me today.Your blog alone has made a wonderful difference in my life.

  • Anita Palmer

    Very inspirational. Made me think of how Jesus died empty. He gave everything of himself, but that wasn’t the end of the story. It was the start. And if we act moment by moment on our creative visions, we leave behind part of the story for others to build on too. So for me: time management. I can’t take time to be creative if I don’t have time.

  • LTJG Powell

    As the 2nd in command of an Aviation Support Detatchment, which is made up of 72 military and civilian workers responsible for providing service to 17 helicopter squadrons and 2 fixed wing squadrons, I am going to take this challenge to them individually to persuade them to empty themselves on a personal level so that their creativity at work isn’t drowning in a sea of unresolved hope that has been deferred in their life due to unfulfilled dreams. I believe this challenge will be the long, shorter way of increasing productivity at work and allowing my sailors, airmen, and civilian workers to provide a more thorough customer-minded experience and hopefully bring them to the place where they find synergy amongst themselves that will lead to innovative ways of production. Great article!

    LTJG James Powell
    RSO ASD Norfolk VA

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Thank you for your service, LTJG Powell.

  • http://tangoleadership.wordpress.com/ Poul Andreassen

    There are certain things you do not realize until you
    read them, and through your article I have come to realize that important rule of living.

    Thanks once again!!


  • Barbara Phinney

    I’d love to win a copy.  I very much need to be creative on a moment’s notice.

  • http://actjustlylovekindness.wordpress.com/ Doug

    I have written a blog post celbrating the Fourth of July by highlighting peace organizations. I will think creatively regarding the reminder of my blog week.

    I will pick up my camera later today to keep my brain thinking towards the goal.

  • Marianne

    Today I can share my joy and invite someone to celebrate with me. 

  • Mandi from Mississippi

    I’m 42, and this post has been the one “kick in the pants” I’ve needed to jump start a few ideas I’ve just been sitting on because they were on my list of “Things To Accomplish Before I Turn 40″–really.  Other obligations kept cropping up, and I didn’t realize many of these goals.  But it’s not too late!  I’ve begun by posting DIE EMPTY sticky notes throughout my home, office, and car as reminders.

  • Gbmoneymatters

    Thanks for an excellent piece Michael. Puts everything important into perspective. To a life of dreams lived.  Dream big – we only get one chance.

  • Matt

    Wow Tod! Your post just resonates. I have played with my freelance design business for seven years. It’s time to step up, face my fears, put my hand to the plow and not look back. If I don’t begin today, I’ll live the rest of my life with regret, and one constant question “what if?”

    • http://www.accidentalcreative.com Todd Henry

      Wonderful, Matt. My business began in the same way. Best wishes!

  • Lillian

    I am trying to create every day–to fully use my talents and abilities.  I’m not using them in my day job, so I am working to get up at least 10 minutes earlier than I need to every day so I can write during that time on my novel.  Doing that makes me more inclined to write more at the end of the day.  Also, I am posting at least one comment every day through twitter and posting on my blog at least three times a week.

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  • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

    What a succinct slogan! 
    I go for it! 
    Thanks Todd.

  • http://wheretigerswill.tumblr.com Will Laohoo

    Great post! I’m working on doing this by devoting time before and after work to writing, blogging, and doing other work that gets me closer to the future I want. It’s tiring at times, but I have a lot of fun with it, which indicates to me that I’m on the right track.

  • http://courseadjustments.wordpress.com B_schebs

    What a great concept.  I can’t wait to get me hands on this book. 

  • Zoetical

    My sister shared this with me and it really spoke to both of our hearts. A somewhat recent relocation and subsequent job loss has left me spinning wheels and reconsidering my entire direction in life. Today I plan to create a mind map for an essay contest I’ve been wanting to enter for a few weeks now. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://amylsullivan.blogspot.com/ Amy Sullivan

    Congrats on your first book. Really like the idea of emptying ourselves! 

    What am I going to do today to make a difference? Instead of rushing and planning and racing, I’m going to be fully present for those in my life. I’m not going to answer questions before they are asked, and I’m not going to live  as if life is one big to-do list.

  • Dewayne Wright

    Excellent article. I was in a huge accident last week that caused me to be LifeLined across Tennessee for treatment. I’m home now and going through my big list of things I always wanted to do with my writing and storytelling that I have always put off. This article is a nice reminder of what I need to do.

  • Anonymous

    I pray each day that God will give me the ability to be a blessing to others and I seek out such opportunities. I used my Independence Day holiday to cast a vision for myself and thus today is the start of me aggressively pursuing that vision. Most of the work is internal: believe God, believe His ability to use me, walk confidently in who I am in Christ and allow the world around me to experience the best me! I believe that as I go along with this day the Lord will unveil the details I am to keep moving forward. Thank you for this post and I too seek to die empty!

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  • http://twitter.com/BrettVaden Brett Vaden

    This week is the second of my vacation. I’ve been feeling the angst Todd spoke of this whole week, and because of this post I’ve been able to give handles to it. I’ve got this creative side to me that comes out randomly, but I want to make it more intentional. I don’t want it to go to waste. I’m going to set aside some time right now for that. Thanks, Todd and Michael.

  • Carolyn Kettle

    Get outside of my own life and enter into other’s lives.  Be present.  Be responsive.  Be there. Enjoy the moment & time spent with them… Say & do what I would say & do if I knew my life was short…it is.

  • http://www.dwaynes--world.blogspot.com Dwayne Morris

    Making a difference today means I “put my mask on before I help someone put theirs on” (airplane instructions)…I need to take a hard look at the path I’m on and determine if where I’m headed is where I want to end up.

  • Angel Birch

    I love this! Exactly the message I needed to read right now! Thank you!

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  • Lizeth

    I make the choice to die empty.

  • Bea Kennedy

    Today, going to take another step into the fight against human trafficking.  Don’t know where it will lead, but that’s not the point.

  • http://www.mestudio.us/ Engage

    Die Empty! I Love it!

  • http://twitter.com/erindotnicole Erin Humphries

    I have also felt thin and over-extended lately, and I think as a  creative it’s easy to feel that way if you believe that there is a finite amount of ideas.  Sometimes I want to save the really good ones for a “better time”.  This article reminded me that there is no end to great ideas because I’m connected to The Creator who supplies us with endless inspiration, so there is no reason to hoard.  Today I will write that article for the non-profit I work for that I’ve been putting off until inspiration struck.

  • Toby Mueller

    In past years I emptied myself, so I thought, in my career. But, now as a stay at home father of two under 5 years old, I have found that I am truly empty at the end of the day. And it is for a better cause than a paycheck. I am blessed and tired. 

  • http://twitter.com/Serene_streams Renata

    Everyday my challenge is seeing the positive in all situations as I believe “all things work together for the good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.”  I know God is not finished with me yet in this life.  We only have this moment in time and this present breath as there’s no guarantee for another.  He has monumental plans for me even if it’s just giving a simple smile to a stranger or a warm hug to uplift a friend’s spirit.  Small things are priceless and precious in God’s eyes.  :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryan.havron Ryan Havron

    This is an amazing concept and well conveyed in the article. It’s almost like Todd was standing behind me at my 9 to 5 taking notes and shaking his head with disgust. I’ve been feeling like I’ve sold out on my dreams and goals to chase a career that will simply put a roof over my head. After reading this I feel  much more like I have a chance and that I’m simply not alone despite the fact that many points felt like they were aimed directly at me. The idea of unnecessary creating alone will add much value to my day.
     Thanks again for the great article. Now I’m off to empty my ideas!

  • Mary Ellen

    Today I am going for a walk at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with my husband of 24+ years. I am going to be inspired by God’s creation and let His beauty penetrate my needy heart. Then I am having a friend for lunch who walks with me through all of the ups and downs of life…a true friend. I will share with her news of a big change coming to our family……our grandson is moving here in 4 months with his wonderful parents. This is good news but not without challenges. God will provide and help. Then we will gather up garage sale items and food for our church fund-raisers. We are raising money for our youth (our daughter included) to attend a Fine Arts Competition in Phoenix. It is a forum for helping young people develop and deploy their talents-in-the-making. It is a privilege to be a part of this exceptional venue. Many hours of preparation have gone into the works of art that our kids will present.Then we close out our day with our exceptional pastor sharing his latest Bible/life knowledge, understanding and wisdom. After this evening’s sermon, we will rehearse with our daughter and her 2 friends to prepare for this Sunday where they will sing as guests at my friend’s church. She & I were college roommates at Berklee College of Music 30+ years ago. We have continued to be friends, make music together and pray for each other. Lifelong friendship! A treasured thing!
    Thank you for letting me share my ordinary/extraordinary day!

  • Rsr777

    This article sat in my inbox for several days…the title stirred up my curiosity…I’m glad I didn’t delete it before I had time to read it.  It INSPIRED ME to keep…giving, sharing, loving and LIVING!!!

  • Mary Jo Laupp

    I was intrigued by the concept of “die empty”.  But having read your post, I wholeheartedly agree – I’d like to “die empty” because I’ve given all that I can possibly give of my creative self!!

  • Steve O”Dell

    This post was very inspiring for me.  I think my quote for today is: 
    The creative process is a daily assault on the beachhead of apathy. 
    Great mental image!  So, I’m going to say some things I’ve been needing, wanting, too afraid to say to one of my kids, and I’m going to plug myself fully into the good changes going on at work, and lead my co-workers by example (content in the knowledge that their response is not up to me).

  • Kirk Carter

    Dang! This hits the nail on the head. I’m bookmarking and sharing this!

  • Jdspeer

    I’ve always left my creativity to the workplace…but now, in my early 50’s, I think it’s time to explore creativity outside of work.  I want to experience new things, learn a new skill, build something beautiful in my yard, travel to new destinations.  It’s definitely time!

  • Mdana

    I plan to give each day my everything and be that person that can make a difference in this world-even if its just a small difference.  I not only want to make a difference, I want my positive influence to help someone want to change and continue on to make a difference too!

  • http://twitter.com/timdaviswired Tim Davis

    TODAY I am going to write at least two blog posts before letting my head hit the pillow to go to sleep for the night.  I have a blog that was recently started that had a good start, but hasn’t been posted on in a few weeks.  That will change TODAY.

  • Robin Whitson

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    I am working on a business plan for a startup nonprofit group, I AM Over Cancer. 

    I AM Over Cancer connects a community of believers where those affected by cancer experience the love of Christ and His healing power. Our goal is to help those in treatment, their family, their caretakers, and survivors through the use of educational material, prayer support, and support groups – both large and small groups as well as online. We are a Christian focused cancer support group serving individuals and their families during the time in which they are dealing with cancer in San Antonio first and eventually to spread throughout the US and world. 

    I believe that we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those touched by cancer and in this time that includes everyone.

    Your comment, “My only job—each and every day—is to empty myself, to do my daily work, and to try as much as possible to leave nothing unspoken, uncreated, unwritten.”, made my day as it reflects the place I am trying to get to in my own life. I work at doing those things that make a difference without getting caught in the minutia of everyday life often without success.

    Being in the creative mode is when I feel most fulfilled especially when that helps someone – whether in ministry, consulting or even in the neighborhood and everyday life. I have learned that God puts us here with talents that need to be used and shared not saved for the future.

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  • Joni

    Michael, I honestly have never read your blog.  My husband gave me a copy of some that he particularly liked, and the one that caught my attention was the “Die Empty” one. 
    My kids are grown, with the last one just having graduated from college, and getting her own place, and I have been contemplating for several years what God now wants me to do with my life.  I had put a lot of stuff on hold for the kids, but now, I wonder, what direction I should go in.  If I died today, there would be many “I wish I would have’s” in my life, and though I know that I probably won’t be able to accomplish all of them, I ‘ve decided that today I will begin.  You asked for us to tell you the plan.  I am planning to write a song today.  I am using the ideas in your blog here to start, and every time I sing the song, I will remember my commitment to emptying myself every day for God.  I’m not saying I will be successful, I’m just going to make this step and see what happens.  Who knows, maybe I  will go back to school and study my first love, music, after all this.  Thanks for the challenge, and God bless.

  • http://twitter.com/tammyhelfrich Tammy Helfrich

    Pay attention to the little things that people are sharing, whether it be verbal or nonverbal. So many people are hurting and just want someone to listen to them and pay attention to them.

  • Lorraineziemke

    I will move forward with a plan for “Heritage Day”.  This is a day I will share with my eight grandchildren through pictures, video, story, and  short trips, the Christian heritage that was theirs before they were born.  This will include how God spoke to their ancestors to make a life change, to know of several who were ministers, and to show them churches that were built by a grandfather. I hope to challenge them to recognize the impact of that on their lives.

  • http://twitter.com/_jeff_p Jeff Patterson

    Die Empty. Such a good reminder.

    Today I hope to continue training our son, as during our interactions this morning and later tonight, helping to shape him into the boy and one day the man God designed him to become. Parenting is filled with relentless opportunities and hope.

    There are a handful of leaders in our church I’ve neglected and need to call today. Most will be encouraging calls, though a couple must be in part confrontational. I’ll make those calls.

    I will devote time and energy this afternoon to planning our Fall discipleship intensives, and revisit the list of names we plan to invite to intentional discipleship.

    Though it won’t count for “today,” tomorrow our kids and I will write letters to our three sponsor kids in Africa. We pray for them each day together, but I’ve neglected our writing to them.

  • Anonymous

    I had recently considered this as I was doing a GTD mind dump.  I was trying to get to mind like water and I asked myself how I could transfer this into my regular life and into the projects I work on.  How could I in essence become mind like water in meetings, with my kids and wife, and at church and so forth.  Part of whay I am doing to help with this is to try and be better at engagement.  I have noticed that all to often I try and multi-task with dealing with people.  I realized that I was not giving my best to them and that by simply try to be more thoughtful and engaged with them that I made the situation that much better.  Meetings were not as long.  My dsicussions with family were much more richer than before and I was able to walk away in mind like water feeling good about the conversation.

  • Fpapprentice

    Todd, great post. Very inspiring. Reminds me to not short change the people around me. I need to empty myself to them. Thanks for the challenge.

  • http://twitter.com/FPApprentice Robinson Mertilus

    Inspiring post, Todd!!!

  • Jim

    Great post that has forced me to think introspectively. I’m encouraged to reevaluate and refocus on what really matters…what I end up giving, not what I’ve acquired. Thanks, Mr. Hyatt!

  • Jules

    I have learned that “making a difference” doesn’t have to be a monumental, earth-shattering event. It doesn’t have to change thousands of lives or minds. I’ve learned that making a difference can and most often does happen one small interaction at a time. Today, I am making a difference by being aware and present in each moment…by listening to the others, one story at a time, and by believing one person at a time – I can make a difference. Over the course of the last year, I began writing music (never before had i even thought this possible). In one year’s time, my best friend and I have shared our music in many different venues. Have we played to sold out stadiums of tens of thousands of people – NO….but we have shared our songs and our faith with one or two – ten or one hundred. We have heard back from people – that one line in a song, or one word spoken made a difference. I never would have dreamed that I would have started down this type of path in my life after 40 years. So glad I didn’t wait around for the earth-shattering opportunity to make a difference…cause one person at a time feels pretty good. 

  • Fotsy217

    I am going to…be myself. There is no one else who can do that. Being kind, considerate and working hard in my job at the Y makes a difference daily in the lives of each member I have contact with.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ericswyatt Eric Wyatt

    Today, I will finish rewriting Chapters Four and Five of the novel that won’t be buried with me, unwritten, in my grave…

  • Susan

    I am going to make cookies for the autistic child that my husband is teaching swim lessons. Afterwards I am going to seriously research and begin taking steps toward homeschooling my children. I want them in the best environment to learn and grow.

  • Heath

    I am working towards dying empty. I’m living a life full of risks and scary bits in an effort to have stories worth telling. There are inevitable lulls, from one of which I’m currently emerging, but I constantly remind myself of the limited nature of this little lifetime – and how much stuff I plan to cram into it. I’m not living a “normal”  life – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Aisha

    Todd, great post! Being a creative person myself I’ve got a TON of ideas stored up inside of me just waiting to get out. Like working on my book, writing new articles for my blog, learning how to recreate that delicious gumbo I ate at Cheeseburger in Paradise the other night… you name it! One of the things I’ve been focusing on this past year is doing exactly what you talk about in your article—dying “empty”. I’m making good progress so far. However, your post really reminds me to keep at it. Thanks again!

  • http://www.ipbrian.com/ IPBrian

    Yes, yes and yes again.  I think you have summed up my feelings as of late. 

  • Heather

    I’m going to call the VA hospital to check on my volunteer application.  I think when I give of my extra time, it makes me feel good about myself and feeling good about yourself gives you the confidence to have pride in yourself and you have to have pride in yourself to try new things.

  • http://alainarkraus.wordpress.com/ Alaina

    How do I plan to make a difference today? By working on a communications & social media plan for our Mainstreet (downtown) group and, hopefully, connect with a friend on how I can help her Habitat for Humanity group raise the project money that they need. They’re more behind the scene things towards making a difference, but they need to be done none the less.

  • Chuck Ragland

    I am having lunch with a friend who just graduated from law school. Now he wants to start a NPO that provides a voice to the under-served in our city. Helping him to make a difference in our city and then maybe other cities after that.

  • Fotsy217

    I will be myself reaching out and serving our members and their families as well as my own staff today at the Y where I work.

  • Gregory Merena

    Yes. Open your heart, die empty.

  • http://www.mosaicmiamichurch.org Kev sutherland

    Great post, reminds me of the theme of Jon Acuff book. We dont spend enough time with random creativity or unnecessary creating, as was said above. Certainly going to be placed on my new found goal list! 

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  • chol caldito

    Die empty but fill the world. :) make your life count. Thanks Todd! I needed this inspiration today. :) God bless you!

  • me

    It is what it is no free luches. I find this view exhausting to even think about. Who cares about emptying yourself. Just go with the flow.