A few years ago, I was in a car accident. My car smashed into a semi-trailer truck in a 205 km/hour head-on collision.
As I lay dying on the side of the road, my life flashed before my eyes. It was like an old videotape on fast forward. Glimpses of my childhood played in grainy black and white. Snippets of important (and not so important) moments popped into my head and then quickly faded away.

I was intensely aware of my entire life up to that point. I saw how one thing led to another. I saw how connected everything in my life was. I saw the chain of cause and effect.

Then my heart stopped.

The paramedics pronounced me dead and called the coroner.

At that moment, I was alone, even though there was a crowd around me, willing me to survive.

The videotape in my mind froze, and three questions came into clear focus.


I felt compelled to answer these questions. My bruised and bleeding brain tossed them over and over. It struggled desperately, clawing for an answer before it was too late.

Was I passionate about life, business, my family, my job, work colleagues, and the things I said mattered to me?

Was I productive in my life, toward my family, my parents, my team, my dreams, my social community, and to others less fortunate than I?

Was I making a difference to my family and friends, to my neighbourhood, to the wider community, and to humanity?

The answer to these questions was not what I hoped.

You see, before the accident, I was always rushing from place to place. I enjoyed my life, but I knew I was failing in one important area. I remembered a night a few months earlier when I arrived home late, again. I had been away most of the week. I had come home because a client was waiting for me in my home studio. As I rushed in the door, my daughter ran up to me and squealed, “Daddy, Daddy, you are home.” I just brushed her off and walked straight into the study to talk to my client. It still upsets me to think about how I dismissed her like that.

I did not realise it at the time, but I was coming face to face with my WHY.

It was at that moment that the paramedics began to resuscitate me. My heart started to pump blood again, and my organs started to function. As I came back to life, I realised I was not interested in scaling the corporate ladder or buying a bigger house anymore. The most important thing in my life was my family. I wanted a life of meaning and experiences that put my family at the heart of my life, not the periphery. I wanted to spend my second life being passionate, caring, and making a difference to others.

My death experience was a game changer for me to realign the focus of my life into meaning and purpose. We all do not need to have a death experience to realise what is important and what really matters.

These three questions—Am I PASSIONATE? Am I PRODUCTIVE? Am I MAKING A DIFFERENCE?—is a reminder to all of us about whether we are in our purpose and destiny or if we are not.

Life after death is a subject most of us will never live to tell. Sam Cawthorn is one of the remarkable few who did. In October 2006, Sam’s life changed forever when he was involved in a major car accident and pronounced DEAD. He was thankfully resuscitated, but left with an amputated right arm and a permanent disability in his right leg. Sam’s simple and inspiring story demonstrates the awesome power and strength found within the human spirit when faced with the choice to continue living as a victim of a tragic accident or seizing the opportunity of life. Learn more about Sam and his incredible story on his website or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


*Photo Credit: Nanagyei via Compfight cc