Die Empty – Todd Henry (Book Summary)

If from time to time you postpone some boring task for tomorrow, there is nothing to worry about.

But if you constantly postpone serious matters for later — working on a book, changing a profession, and so on — the consequences can be disastrous.

One day there will be no more time for them. This happens to many of us: successfully completing daily tasks, we still do not complete our “main” work.

We become people who have not accomplished anything outstanding, stand out in no way, and who is tormented by regret for their aimlessly lived lives.

Todd Henry suffered a serious illness in his youth, was on the verge of death.

This made him reconsider his attitude to life, begin to look for ways to live it most fully. The result of the searches was this book. It contains valuable tips on how to change your settings and organize your life so that to fully realize their capabilities.


Die Empty by Todd Henry

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Although Henry writes “Die Empty” with great enthusiasm about the moral and practical need not to waste life on trifles.

This book is available as:

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Will I Die?

At 16, Todd Henry, waking up one night, felt that he could not move his right or left foot.

Experiencing extreme pain, he crawled in horror into his parents’ room; they immediately called an ambulance.

The next morning, Todd woke up in a hospital, surrounded by frightened relatives.

Doctors discovered in his stomach a neoplasm – a muscle that swelled due to infection, which transmitted a nerve. Because of this, Todd’s legs failed. Extreme pain tormented him for about two months. By the end of his illness, he had lost over 20 kilograms, and he had to learn to walk again.

“Our attitude to work highly affects the success of life in general.”

At the hospital, Todd listened to the radio.

The receiver caught only one station at which the hit of the time was repeated every hour – the song “Years of Life” by Mike & The Mechanics. Todd remembered one line: “It will be too late to admit when we die, that we never understood each other.”

Listening to this song day after day, he thought that he miraculously escaped death. He also reflected on the fact that everyone who visited him very carefully selected words. They acted as if the conversation was the last, and were afraid to say something wrong.

“The most global problems of the modern world cannot be solved by half-hearted people who simply sit out from bell to bell in an uninteresting position for them to accumulate on things that will quickly become unnecessary or become worthless.”

Todd promised himself: “When I leave the hospital, I will begin to live more meaningfully.

I will perform only those actions that are important. ” At the age of sixteen, he learned a valuable lesson: no one lives forever. This is a fact with which nothing can be done. Todd vowed that he would no longer waste aimlessly a single minute left to him.

“Doing work that brings satisfaction does not mean falling out of real life, packing your bags and going on a pilgrimage to India.”

Having recovered, Todd Henry tried to make his life more complete. He discovered a new feeling in himself – courage, a willingness to do something that he could never have decided before.

So he began to write songs and speak to friends. In addition, he trained hard to restore strength and regain mobility. He was again included in the school basketball team, although at first, this goal seemed to everyone unattainable.

Todd tried to make every moment of his life and every decision he made filled with meaning.

The Most Important Issues That We Ignore

We are all mortal, yet many people refuse to acknowledge this fact.

But even, it would seem, very successful people from time to time are tormented by the question: “Does anyone need what I did today?” Even successful people deep down realize that they could achieve even more and lead a more meaningful life.

“… Then, with professional development, there are fewer events that would inspire us and force us to gather and act to the limit.”

  • How to avoid an aimless existence?
  • How to realize the best that is capable of?

Very often, these critical issues fade into the background. Sometimes, due to hard work and a continuous series of urgent matters, they remain unanswered for many years. But one day a person wakes up and asks himself:

  • Who am I?
  • How did I get here?
  • How to get back to yourself? 

“The void must be filled, and where there is no targeted action and meaningful progress, any activity focused on creating an immediate result will fill it.”

Let your goal be “die empty,” that is, who has managed to carry out all of his endeavors without missing a single opportunity.

Then you will be calm, knowing that you have fully revealed your potential.

Alas, many still fail to achieve this goal. Before they died, they probably regretted that they did not live as consciously as possible. All these years they did not listen to their inner voice, which quietly reminded of extremely important things.

They rejected new opportunities, choosing comfort rather than risk.

Why Do People Become Mediocre

In 2005, Steve Jobs addressed this topic in a speech to Stanford graduates: “I looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself:“ If today was the last day of my life, would I like to do what I’m going to do now? ” And if the answer was “no,” then no matter how much I had to live, I understood that something needed to be changed. ” Jobs never compromised. He knew that this was a direct road to mediocrity.

“Let yourself not know something. Some consider themselves unsuccessful if they are incompetent in some matter, but successful people perceive ignorance as a fact and an opportunity for development. ”

In 1999, during the final game of the NFL Championship, they showed a brilliant advertisement for the Monster.com employment site.

The video was called “When I Grow Up”.

In it, young children told each other about their life plans. One said that he wanted to lay out papers in folders all day. Another was about to break into a cake but break into middle managers.

The third kid wanted to be such that at any moment he could be replaced by someone else. And the fourth was going to become a sneak. At the end of the video, the question arose: “And who did you want to become?”

The advertising video reminded: no one ever consciously sets himself the goal of becoming mediocrity, but very many people become it anyway. How does this work out?

“Our time is limited, and it’s very important how we handle it.”

At the beginning of a career, many have original ideas that could lead to outstanding achievements.

But although a young man can be sure of the potential of his ideas, the time required for their implementation takes daily things. Soon the excitement disappears, a period of stagnation begins.

Man ceases to believe in the significance of his ideas. The moment of insight is a thing of the past, its place is occupied by regrets and memories.

“… The only way to act effectively is to constantly ask myself the question:“ Will I be able to sleep peacefully in the evening, knowing that I did the right job today? ”

So people lose their fuse.

They are no longer keen on or interested in anything. In a word, they become mediocrity. This does not mean that they cease to do a good job and cannot achieve career growth.

Even those who no longer strive for excellence can impress successful people. It is possible that they themselves do not even realize that they have already made a choice in favor of compromises.

“The Seven Deadly Sins of Mediocrity”

To avoid such a sad fate, use all your internal resources.

Try not to make the following mistakes, which can be described as “the seven deadly sins of mediocrity”:

  1. Lack of purpose. If your life does not have a strategy, a main theme, a common motive or goal, then you are depriving yourself of joy, losing the ability to experience a feeling of satisfaction. Find your path, the main theme of your life and concentrate all your hobbies and efforts around it. Its presence will help you decide when and how to act, to understand what you are ready to fight for. Try to approach life with a “productive passion” directed at others. Work in the name of others inspires more than work only for oneself.
  2. Boredom. Those languishing from boredom are not able to approach business with enthusiasm and creativity. This is a curse of professionals who perform many work tasks “on the machine”. They do not improve, do not set themselves difficult tasks and almost never do anything new. To resist boredom, deliberately take an interest in the world around you and take time to think. Get a notebook (or a file on your smartphone), write down any questions that suddenly interest you, and take the time to look for answers.
  3. Comfort. If your main goal is a comfortable life, you are depriving yourself of a chance for development. Everyday business, allowing you to maintain the current state of things, become more important for you than possible personal changes. Do not be afraid to “enter the darkroom”. Standing on its doorstep, you will never know what’s inside. This can be done only in one way – go inside. Say yes to all new opportunities. If you often say no, it means that most likely you do not want to change anything. Do not be afraid to take risks, do not shy away from responsibility, become the master of your life.
  4. Misconception. We often and willingly deceive ourselves, incorrectly assess our own capabilities and talents. To avoid self-deception, engage in self-knowledge, set ambitious goals. Imitate the people you respect. But, adopting other people’s qualities, act selectively. You must become what you want to become, and not someone else’s reflection in the mirror.
  5. Ego. Proud, self-righteous people do not like to lose. They are ready to sink the ship rather than recognize the likelihood of a shipwreck. In order not to be dominated by your ego, remain humble. Recognize that you still don’t know everything, and continue to study. Be flexible, correct mistakes, and don’t shy away from discussing them. It is worth starting to think: “It is rightfully for me,” and your development will stop.
  6. Fear. Very often the source of fear is not real dangers, but our thoughts and assumptions. Despite the ephemeral nature of such fears, we experience negative emotions. As a result, many of us are unable to realize cherished dreams, for example, to become an artist. We choose professions that are only indirectly related to our true vocation. Do not be afraid to take risks, otherwise you will exchange your life for trifles.
  7. Closure. Too busy people or those who find themselves in a difficult position tend to lock themselves in. This limits the opportunities for personal growth and cooperation. To avoid the sin of isolation, pay attention to others. Do not narrow the circle of communication, but rather, expand it. At the workplace, communication will allow several receptions. One of them is “talk for clarity”: they are needed to bridge the gap between word and deed. A “conversation about expectations” will allow you to avoid actions based on incorrect assumptions, and a “conversation about obligations” will help assess the level of enthusiasm and monitor the mood of employees.

A Recipe for a Fulfilling Life

How not to fall into the traps of mediocrity and fully realize your life potential? To answer this question, we will divide the general concept of “work” (it means not only the activity for which you receive a salary, but also your activity in general) into three components:

  1. Planning.
  2. Actions. These are the things that you are directly involved in, whether it is sales, paperwork or writing.
  3. Search for internal connections. This is something that is not directly related to your current work, that does not have to give any specific result, which is done just like that, for the sake of interest. Such actions include improving skills, expressing curiosity and implementing projects that will only benefit in the future.

“No matter how paradoxical this may sound, it can sometimes be useful to disconnect from some sources of information and the influx of new facts in order to activate your creative resources.”

Depending on the attitude to these three components, each person belongs to one of the following categories of workers:

  • “Strategists.” They have all three components. Workers of this type are persistent. They understand that uncertainty cannot be avoided, and they successfully overcome it. They develop their skills in order to take full advantage of new opportunities in the future.
  • “Purposeful.” They plan and act, but do not seek internal connections. They direct all their efforts towards achieving short-term goals. As a rule, such people achieve a lot in the early years, but then limit their own growth to unwillingness to develop.
  • “Floating with the flow.” Workers of this type are engaged in direct activities and are looking for internal connections, but are not involved in planning. As a result, they grab hold of one project, then another. They fulfill their duties, but never achieve career growth.
  • “The dreamers”. They look for internal connections and make plans, but they do not work. They have many projects, but lack the determination to bring these projects to life.

“Remember that in order to do your best job, you must plan, act, and seek internal connections …”

You will be able to fully realize yourself only if all three components are present in your work, that is, if you are a “strategist”.

But even if you do not belong to this category now, it is subject to change.

When you begin to change your life, take 10-15 minutes every day to make sure that you have not confused “progress” with “efficiency”.

Daily Check

“Your life will be measured by what you have given, not what you have taken. Do not keep what everyone needs. ”

Use the EMPTY acronym to direct your daily checks:

  • E: Focus on the ethics” – Write your creed of ethics and apply it to everything you do every day.
  • “M: Focus on the mission” – Long-range aims depend on the steady completion of daily goals.
  • “P: Focus on other people” – Consider who you will see today and how you will engage in productive conversations.
  • “T: “Focus on the tasks” – Make sure what you do contributes to your long-term goals.
  • “Y: Focus on yourself” – Don’t just work for other people. Develop yourself too.

“Act now – urgently and persistently. Plant seeds today that will yield later. ”

Get started now.

See every day as the last.

Try to ensure that each of them brings you complete satisfaction.


  • By the end of their lives, many people realize that they have not done everything that they could do.
  • The routine, secondary matters that we take as important ones distract us from really important matters.
  • Many of us have repeatedly heard a quiet inner voice, convincing us that we live wrongly, but we did not react.
  • When we choose comfort, we deprive ourselves of opportunities for development.
  • Great ideas come to many people, but they bury them under a pile of everyday activities. And then they simply lose interest in these ideas.
  • “Seven deadly sins” lead to mediocrity: lack of purpose, boredom, comfort, delusion, ego, fear and isolation.
  • A mediocre person may well reach career heights, but this will not bring him satisfaction.
  • A full-fledged, satisfying activity is impossible without three components: planning, action and the search for internal connections.
  • All employees can be divided into four categories: “strategists”, “purposeful”, “floating with the flow”, “dreamers”. And only “strategists” are closest to what is called a full life.
  • Strive to fully realize all your capabilities

Why You Should Read “Die Empty”

  • To change the quality of life
  • To break the procrastination habit
  • To find meaning in life

This book is available as:

AudiobookeBook | Print