A Summary and Review of Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’kelly: A Guide for Thinking Executives – and Those Who Want to be One

This summary and review of the book, Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life, was prepared by Cole Wardell while a Business Administration major in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Executive Summary

If you had just been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer would you consider it a blessing? Eugene O’Kelly felt that his brain cancer was one of the best things that could happen to him in his life. He learned just how special life really is. He tells us his story in the book Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life.
The book opens up to the life that Eugene O’Kelly lived before his cancer diagnosis. He was a former CEO and chairman of the fortune five hundred accounting firm KMPG. His days were full of work and did not stop till his head hit the pillow at night. There was even an instance where he made a meeting with a client on a flight just so he could get the account. He was meticulous with his work and was so dedicated to it. This unfortunately left little to no time for his family. With the exception of the occasional golf game with his wife, Corinne.
Golf was his escape. He felt at ease when he was on the course. One day while he was playing with his wife he lined up a shot and hit, what he thought, was a great shot. However, the shot went far right and was hardly playable where it landed. After the round his wife noticed that he looked especially pale. This was the first of many more signs to come for Eugene O’Kelly to realize that something was wrong with his health. An increase in headaches and a droop on the right side of his face would eventually be the reasons why he finally went to the doctor to see what was ailing him. After a few visits at the doctor’s office and a couple of MRI’s, Eugene O’Kelly was told he had three golf ball sized tumors on the right side of his brain and diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He had about a hundred days left to live. This is where Chasing Daylight truly begins.
We see how Eugene O’Kelly deals with death and how it can be a positive and a healthy thing. He teaches us life lessons on living in the moment, achieving balance in our lives, what commit really is, and how to simplify our lives. He had to learn how to live in the moment in his new found life and find perfect moments everyday. His old life was focused on a schedule and focussed on what was next in his life. It wasn’t until he had been told he had a hundred days left on earth, that he realized the importance of living in the moment.
Another lesson that Mr. O’Kelly teaches us is how important closure is in our lives. He made a diagram of the five different types of people he wanted closure with. He made a great effort to personally close the relationships in his life and show these people how important they were in his life. He made each and every person feel special about the closure time they had with him. He made a unique and special time for his family on a last vacation to there house in Lake Tahoe. During this vacation he used this time for his family, making every moment perfect and finding the best way to live in every single moment. We see how important relationship are in Eugene O’Kelly’s life and closure helped these relationships grow even more.
Eugene O’Kelly was a special man who taught his readers how to embrace death and use it as the best possible learning experience it can be. On September 10, 2005 Eugene O’Kelly passed away. The funeral, that he planned, even down to the eulogies, occurred. The only wish that Eugene O’Kelly had was that he could be there to share the moment with the people he truly loved.

The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from Chasing Daylight

1. The first lesson is to truly grasp what commitment is. So many times in life we equate commitment with time and reliability. We think that if we don’t spend every moment possible on the task then we are not truly committed to it. This is so far from the truth according to Eugene O’Kelly. He thinks commitment is about depth and energy. How much do you truly care about that thing you think you are committed to? Are you deeply involved in the accomplishments and failures of your commitment? We have to re-think what we truly think commitment is in our lives.

2. Things don’t always go according to plan. Eugene O’Kelly learned this lesson as he went in for his daily radiation treatments. Sometimes one of the machines would be out of service, or they would be running behind schedule. Sometimes the perfect plan that you had in your head doesn’t always work out. You have to learn to adjust and develop a new game plan.

3. You can’t control everything. Those with a type A personality have a problem with this one. In life there are going o be situations where you can not be in control and you have to be able to accept it. Eugene O’Kelly was not in control of the disease in his brain that was killing him, but he accepted it and turned it into a positive experience in his life.

4. Face reality. Eugene O’Kelly was once a CEO of a huge accounting firm. Then after he had be diagnosed with terminal brain cancer he knew it was time to face reality. There was nothing he or anyone else could do to save his life. He had to face reality and resign from his job and start the last cycle of his life.

5. Next is to simplify your life. You have to learn how to discern between short and long term goals within your life and know which ones need attention at the time. So many times in life we get focused on material things while our on life in a downward spiral. We feel these things will fill a void, but in all reality we have to simplify our lives and fix what is right in front of us first.  

6. The sixth lesson is to live in the moment. With only months left to live Eugene O’Kelly truly had to learn how to live in the moment. As he did this time seemed to move slower and he was able to enjoy more. So think about your life and see if you are truly living moment by moment? Or are you just living for the future?

7. The next lesson is to recognize perfection even in the smallest things in life. After Eugene received his diagnosis he wanted to have perfect moments. These could be an array of things, from a five minute phone call with a friend or a great meal with even better conversation. He learned how to recognize perfection in the smallest of things in life. This gave him a greater appreciation for just how perfect life can be.

8. Find your “water” in life. Mr. O’Kelly found water to be his medium for a peaceful environment. This allowed him to escape reality for awhile and forget about everything that was ahead of him. We have to find what makes us peaceful in our lives and always escape to them when needed.

9. Learn how to say goodbye to people and to past things in life. Eugene O’Kelly had to learn how to say goodbye to those around you and the people that affected your life. Mr. O’Kelly found it very important to have closure with all different types of relationships in his life. When you are transitioning to another phase in life or to another job make sure you have significant closure with those around you.

10. The last lesson is ultimately the hardest one to learn, we have to know how to achieve balance within our lives. This means be able to be calm in all of the lives we live. Weather it is or business life or our family life. We have to see the importance in both and realize that if do not achieve a balance between the two then we will not be able to live in the moment. Instead, we will be haunted by the future and all we see is a schedule and plans instead of life and great moments within them.  

Full Summary of Chasing Daylight


I had the privilege of reading Chasing Daylight. This is the very personal story of Eugene O’Kelly, who was once the CEO of the Fortune Five Hundred accounting firm KPMG. He was a very focussed businessman that sometimes left his family in the rearview. His aspect on life completely changed in May of 2005 when he was told he had glioblastoma multiforme, a terminal brain cancer that left him with three months to live. The book takes us through his last one hundred days on earth and how he manages to keep a positive outlook through it all. We see truly how his forthcoming death transformed his life.

A Gift

Chasing Daylight starts out with two deep sentences. The first states that Eugene O’Kelly is blessed. This statement then is followed by the fact he has been told he has threes months to live. I can honestly say I have never seen these two statements in the same paragraph, let alone back to back sentences. He goes on to say that he is not joking about the fact he is truly blessed with the situation. When we hear those two sentences we first think the person who wrote them was a miserable good for nothing who never had a happy moment in his life. This was not the case for Mr. O’Kelly. He had a unbelievable family, a wife and two daughters, who loved him very much. He had a great job, friends and and pretty good golf game.
With this newly found diagnosis it forced him to think about the thing that no one hardly thinks about; their own death. He had to answer two questions about himself, “Must the end of life be the worst thing?”, and “Can it be made a constructive experience, even the best part of life?” Mr. O’Kelly answered these questions simply, “no and yes.”  As I stated before not many people had the opportunity to plan there own death. O’Kelly categorized people who faced death as two different groups. The first was the ones that death came upon prematurely and without notice. This can occur in a car accident where as these people have not even begun to think of themselves as mortal. The other group is the ones that are to mentally or physically damaged to make their final days what they truly want them to be. The only thought for this group is the relief of pain. O’Kelly was an outlier to these groups at only fifty-three when he was diagnosed. He was not old in the least bit, and it did not come with pain but merely the fact that he was told he had about a hundred days left in his life. This truly came as a shock to him and his wife.
The chapter goes on telling a little about Eugene’s life and a great story of his passion for the sport of baseball. O’Kelly loved the game of baseball but was not very talented at it. One day his mother pulled him aside and bluntly told him,”You may have the passion to be a great baseball player, but not the talent.” This taught him to hold tight to his passions but also to know what he is talented at. So his talents could lead him to success.
The final lesson in the chapter is to move things up in your life. Eugene O’Kelly did not ask to be diagnosed with terminal cancer, but it was the path he had to follow. He states that every second in our lives are so special and so unique that we should not miss out on any of it because we say we are going to get to it tomorrow. He uses the example of thinking about important issues in our life. He says, “If you’re 30 and planned to think about it in 20 years, move it up.” Eugene O’Kelly loved being a business leader but knew that one day he would no longer be that man and the one thing he could control, when everything else faded away, was his farewell.

The Bottom Line

“Who am I?” This is the question that O’Kelly asks himself at the beginning of the chapter. He goes on to talk about the perfect day in his, “past life.” He would have a couple of face to face client meetings, then meet with at least one member of his inner team, make a few phone calls to other offices. Then his focus switched to the big picture of his job, improving at least one of the three areas he vowed to improve, growing the business, enhancing quality and reducing risk, and finally the long term health of the firm. Eugene O’Kelly was passionate about accounting and ultimately passionate about his company.
O’Kelly was driven, a very goal-oriented person. The type of man if you called him in the middle of the night and asked him to fly across the word to help the firm, he would. He tells an amazing story of this perseverance. He had to meet with the president of an Australian investment bank to keep the account. Eugene did everything in his power to get the meeting, even made his entire schedule available to the bank’ s president. All he was told repeatedly was apologizes for the lack of any open appointments. Finally, he gained a rapport with the secretary and asked if he could know her boss’s travel plans. He soon learned that the bak president was flying from Sydney to Melbourne in two days. O’Kelly got his seat assignment right next to the banks presidents so he could have a ninety minute meeting with the man in the air. When he boarded the flight the bank president was completely dumb-founded to hear of the true reason why O’Kelly was on the flight. He offered the presentation, got the bank’s account and flew back to America. We go on to learn how truly successful Eugene O’Kelly was, from roundtables with the President of the United States to board meeting with the most successful CEO’s in America.
Even with the busiest days in the office, Eugene O’Kelly always had his escape from the daunting tasks of the boardroom. This release was golf with his wife, they especially loved to play late in the afternoon while the sun was setting on the course. One day as he took a shot from one of the holes everything felt fine with his swing and in his mind it was a great shot, but in all reality the ball went far right and it was a horrible shot. At the end of the round Corinne, his wife, said he looked pale. This was the fist of many signs to come.
The next noticeable sign came at the worst possible time. While O’Kelly was at a rehearsal dinner his wife noticed a droop on the right side of his cheek. He knew he had a very big business trip to China so he dismissed and shook it off as the possibility of Bell’s palsy. He agreed to have it looked at the following week. As Eugene and Corrine were in the doctors office he was put through very routine tests, such as checking reflexes and vitals. Then a strange sign came from the doctor, she asked Eugene to come in the first thing the next morning for a MRI. Eugene puts it well when he states, “…getting bumped to the head of the MRI line was not the sort of privilege you want to experience.” So he went it the next morning for the tests, then a few hours later the neurologist called his office, and of course Mr. O’Kelly was to busy to take the call, so his wife received the message. She proceeded to call the doctor back and persuaded the doctor to tell her the news. The doctor simply said, “We found something.” The next day, Eugene and Corrine found themselves back at the doctors for a second, dye contrasted, MRI. After the test, the doctor called Mr. And Mrs. O’Kelly back into the office, the doctor slid the films onto the light boards. They saw what was truly wrong with Eugene O’Kelly. Three multicentric centric tumors, each the size of a golf ball. The O’Kellys were shocked, for the first time in their life they had been completely caught off guard.
The next step was to meet with two different neurosurgeons to see what they thought the best plan of action would be. The first one one recommended immediate brain surgery, called “debunking,” to reduce the size of the tumors and relieve pressure on his brain. The other was a little more conservative, he suggested taking a biopsy of the tumor. Eugene and Corinne both agreed with the second approach. The news got worse after the biopsy though, the tissue sample the doctor removed was completely dead. The only thing left to recommend was radiation to hopefully give Eugene O’Kelly a couple extra months on his ultimate death sentence. If luck was on his side, Eugene would be alive for another three months. The disease had its own foot to the pedal. Like Mr. O’Kelly, it didn’t know how to slow down.

The Business of Dying is Hard

Eugene O’Kelly had always been a businessman. He had the mindset set that made him a very successful one. For example, after his team had loss a potential or recent client to another firm he would gather his team and ask them several question to see if everything that could have been done to win or keep the account was done. Such as, “What caused them not to choose us? Was there any lack of commitment? If we had to do it again would we do anything differently?” These questions weren’t asked out of anger or frustration, but with encouragement.
Now with his new found diagnosis he would have to figure out these answers quickly, thoughtfully, correctly for himself and his new found disease. Luckily, he had an amazing partner in his wife, Corinne. He stated that, “…over the years we had chased daylight together. And now, as a team, we were going to chase it one last time, only when the daylight fades this time, it would fade not just on one beautiful day among many, but on our beautiful life together.”
Now since Mr. O’Kelly knew that things could not work the way they did, he had to learn how to do things over again. He had always preached the commitment to goals;  setting them, pursuing them, completing them. Now with a new phase of life, he resolved to do three things, leave his job, choose a correct medical protocol to make the time remaining the best of his life, and as good as it could possibly be for those most affected by his situation.
Two week after his first innocent seeming medical test, Eugene O’Kelly stepped down from his position as chairman and CEO of KMPG accounting firm. He left no door open about his reassignment, no false hope on a miraculous return or a hiatus. The resignation hurt Eugene. His work had defined him for the past thirty-three years. When he first started there it was half of its current size. Now there were over twenty thousand employees at KMPG. His transition from leader to former member was swift, and thats how O’Kelly wanted it. All of his meetings, appointments and meals that were meticulously scheduled over the next three months were either canceled or reassigned to other people within the firm. The rest of his meetings and talks were done over the next three days exclusively by phone. It was on the second day, while talking to a former board member Eugene O’Kelly had his first seizure.
At first the seizure were not the type that everyone is familiar with. He wasn’t falling to the floor and convulsing uncontrollably, but rather the right side of his face would spasm. This was not his first symptom however, his vision began to take a toll. Within the days of his diagnosis his vision got so bad he could no longer write a check. Mr. O’Kelly had to relearn how to dress and his speech became garbled. These were all side effects of the cancer. The next task after resigning from his job was to choose the best medical options possible. Chemotherapy might have prolonged Eugene O’Kelley life by two or three months, but the side effects did not allow him to be with his family fully. So, after three days Mr. O’Kelly quit chemo. The next treatment option would be radiation. While radiation would fatigue, it would not provide the nastier side effects as chemo. This meant frequent trips to the radiation clinic and continual treatments. The ultimate lesson he learned at the clinic is that you can’t control everything. The former CEO of a fortune five hundred company had to learn had to let go.

The Best Death Possible   

As the disease set in Mr. O’Kelly found himself continuously checking his watch to see if he was remaining on schedule. However, there was no more schedule, no more meetings, and no more appointments. A new thought entered into Eugene’s head, what if he spent all his energy, all his passion and everything he had focused on what he was doing at that moment. He knew he had one more thing left to learn and only a short time left to learn it. He had to learn how to slow down. For so many years in his life, at least the past thirty, he had been going a hundred miles a hour. No exits, no u-turns, just straight aways. Now, he found himself going fifty, maybe forty, miles per hour now and he did not know how to slow down. He stated, “I wanted the continued downshifting to be done consciously, in a controlled way, so that my final weeks and days, and certainly my final moments, could be full of ease and peace.” Eugene O’Kelly did not want to die in a car crash.   
As he sat one day at his kitchen table he made a to-do list for his final days. This list included: get legal and financial affairs in order, unwind relationships, simplify, live in the moment, create and be open to great moments, begin transition to next state, and finally, to plan his funeral. He then took this list and boiled it down further into three things, clarity, intensity, perfection. Eugene O’Kelly wanted the best death possible. And the only way to achieve that was the same way he knew to achieve life; try and do it the best way he knew how. Now what needed to be changed was his perceptions on things. He had to learn how to achieve balance in his life.  
Eugene had always been a big believer in commitment in every aspect of life. “Total commitment to marriage, to family, to country, to coworkers and firm, to neighbors and fellow human beings.” The problem that O’Kelly saw with commitment was that it had come to represent time and reliability. These days commitment means if your willing to put every second into and you’re able to drop at a moments notice, no matter what is going on, and refocus on what you are “committed” to. This was an idea that was flawed for Mr. O’Kelly, for him commitment was about depth. More accurately, commitment was about the energy one puts in, and how present one is.
As I stated before, Mr. O’Kelly had to learn how to live in the present. There were a few things holding him back from this. He tells the story when he took his daughter, Gina, to see Batman Returns in the theatre. He said, “The fist thing she said when she got out of the theatre was, I hope they make a sequel!” She was so focused on the continuation of the present moment that she was not living in the present moment. He found himself doing this exact same thing in his business world. He states, “Who doesn’t feel the desire, even compulsion, to know what’s going to happen next?” He had to change his mindset, the future and the past would continuously fight in such a way that he could not have any chance of experiencing something new and totally within his control, the present.  
He learned to relax a little more. He enjoyed a little more. If he was going to learn how to live in the present he would have to move on from his previous life. He still continued to struggle. He wished for a way to truly live in the present. He knew he had the conscience to do this, but he had to teach it and train it. He had to be committed to live in the present.

The Good Good-Bye

Eugene O’Kelly was familiar to terminal cancer, his father died of lung cancer when he was sixty-three years old. His father however, was very accepting to what was happening to him. That acceptance made it easier for Eugene. With this thought in his mind, Eugene wanted to resolve his personal relationships and make them truly perfect moments. He came up with four reasons why he wanted to do this: he thought the goodbyes would bring happiness to himself and to those he was saying farewell to, it made him think deeply about that things that most people did not make the time for, he was made for closure and needed it in his life, and finally because he could. As he recalled names of people he wanted to reach in order to find closure he recalled the special times of each of those relationships and just why he called them friends. Doing this kept his focus on life and not on the ever looming thought of death.
Without some sort of closure with most of the important relationships, within his life, might never be acknowledged or understood in the fullest way. This would be a loss for both parties. Before Eugene O’Kelly left this world he knew he had to find a balance, and he knew that the closure with those he called friends and family would help him attain that. One night with a legal pad and a pen he sketched out a diagram of five rings of relationships that he encountered within his life. The outermost ring were for people who  through shared experiences or shared passion he called friends. The next ring was for close business associates. The third ring was for lifetime friends. Next, was his children, and finally and most important was his wife Corinne.
His plan was to start from the outermost ring and work inward. After he finished the names for his outermost circle the names tallied up to be about a thousand. Eugene was astounded by the number as he states, “…it proved to me that we touch the lives of many more people than we realize, especially since we tend not to be methodical bookkeepers.” Little did he know that this massive outer ring was more of a curse than a blessing. He spent three long weeks trying to reach out to all these people, mostly by phone but others by letter. He realized that his life was to consumed by the people in his outer ring and how he was spending too much time with them and not with the people he truly cared about. He realized. “They’re just not the people who should have consumed the time and energy that they did.” He knew it was time to move further inward.
While he was focused on the closure of the relationships in his life he realized something about himself, he was finally living in the present. Eugene O’Kelly puts it best when he says, “I realized that while I was busy trying to be hyperconscious, to learn how to be in the present moment, I’d already started doing it. Just by letting go and enjoying what was right in front of me.” He started to find perfect moment in many things that he did. Whether it was an intense five-minute phone call with a friend, or a four hour meal with good food and great conversation. In these perfect moments he said, “time came close to standing still.” He was amazed at how many perfect moments he was having. How he had gotten so much better at it, and how they have became beautiful. The tediousness of his past life had been replaced with his new found life of living in every moment. He says, “I felt as if I was becoming sensitive to simply life itself.”


Finally, Eugene O’Kelly found the earthly thing that gave him peace, it was water. Up until now he had no passion for the water. He wasn’t a sailor, in fact he got very sea sick the first time he went out on a boat. So he was no water fan, but he found peace in being by the water, it helped quiet his mind and slow him down. Each day he would spend time by the water and relax. He soon realized though he could not spend much time by the water because it was an escape from reality. He wanted to get back into the world. He wanted to have fun, be spontaneous, eat amazing food, and enjoy meaningful relationships. He was not dead yet and he did not plan to act that way.
It was finally time to sit down and plan his funeral. The details came together, the place, the pallbearers, the music, it all was to Eugene’s liking. He decided that there would be three eulogies, Tim Flynn, his good friend would deliver the first. Then, Stan O’Neal, the CEO of Merrill Lynch would talk on what work and responsibility meant to Eugene. Finally, his brother William would give the last eulogy. While he would say words from his heart, he would also read words provided by Eugene. These words addressed his family and he wanted them to be said in front of everyone. He knew this would be the perfect funeral. His only wish was that he could be there.
He moved on to finding closure with his most valued business associates. He told each and every one of them how much he had enjoyed working with them and what they had meant to his life. With these goodbyes behind him, Eugene felt simpler, quieter, and focused on the present.
You see Eugene O’Kelly’s new found passion for the present when he says, “The present felt to me like a gift.” He challenges the readers of the book to look at their own calendar and see if they have any perfect days planned out. He was living in the moment so well that a day felt like a week, a week like a month, and a month was a year. He loved his perfect moments inside of his perfect days. He found peace in the present and also perfection.
While saying his farewells to some of the people close to them he encountered some problems. After his last moment with them, they continued to call, they didn’t want Eugene O’Kelly to leave. He would have to be a little blunt and cold with them and say, “I’d like this to be it, I set this up specifically so we could unwind. And we made a perfect moment out of this. Let’s take that and go forward. Let’s not schedule another one. Trying to improve on a perfect moment never works.” He felt that these people were so connected to living that they were unable to accept the end. They wanted O’Kelly to continue to live, so they could find hope in himself. In all reality though these people were hopeless in themselves and were not able to see that fully.
Eugene O’Kelly had always assumed that his home and office life had to be separate. He realized that his thinking was too narrow, too strict. What if he had worked less and spent more time with his family? Could this have made him more focused at work? Maybe more creative and even more productive? He wished that he’d known to be more in the present in his work life, the way he knew it now.
Finally he was on the closure ring of immediate family and his wife, he knew it would be hard for those around him, especially his daughter Gina. He wanted her to understand his confidence and pride in, and profound lover for her. So the O’Kelly family went on one last vacation to Lake Tahoe where the days where filled with perfect moments for Eugene. They would eat well, rent boats for the day and ride along the golf course as the sun would set. He had his final goodbyes with his sisters, his nephew, his brother, and his mother. This trip was perfect, Eugene said it best when talks about his last day on the trip. He says, “It was a perfect day. I felt complete. Spent but complete.


Eugene O’Kelly died on September 10, 2005 at his apartment in New York City. It was said that he was at his greatest peace in his final moments of life. I was amazed by the story this book told and the great life lessons within it. I strongly recommend this book to anyone. It gives you a greater appreciation for death and the positive outcomes that can come from it. Also, it teaches you just how important it is to live in the present everyday. Eugene O’Kelly was a special man and I was very thankful I got to read his story.

The Video Lounge

This is a video of Steve Job’s commencement speech to Stanford University’s graduating class of 2005. He tells the story of when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told it was terminal. However, they did a biopsy of the tumor and found it was operable. Steve Jobs went from thinking he was dying to being a cancer survivor in a couple of days. This allowed him to think about death and how it is import to do what we love in life and not take any moment for granted.  

Personal Insights

Why I think:

  • The author is one of the most brilliant people around…or is full of $%&#, because:

I believe Eugene O’Kelly is a brilliant man and author. The way he handled his death and allowed it to be a positive and fulfilling time in his life was inspiring. He knew that if he was able to live in the present moment then his time would slow down and he could enjoy life to the fullest until his time came. To see death as a positive life lesson is hard to do, but Eugene O’Kelly does it effortlessly.

  • With business conditions today, what the author wrote is – or is no longer true – because:

The lessons that are taught in this book are timeless. There are lesson about how to handle death and to effectively have closure with people are the type of information you get from reading this book. There is no out dated math or theories, but only great life lessons that everyone can learn from.  

Then, all of the following bullet-items are mandatory to write about:

  • If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:

1. I would have gone in more depth on his transition from CEO to a terminal cancer patient. I would have explained more about the emotions he felt and how your family was effected at first. I would have liked to know more about the emotions the O’Kelly family felt.

2. I loved what Eugene O’Kelly said and wrote about commitment, but I wish he would have wrote more about it. He had great points on the fact that commitment is very miscued today. I wish he would have dedicated a couple more paragraphs to his thoughts on commitment.  

3. Eugene O’Kelly had to deal with his father death from lung cancer when he was forty-three years old. He states this in the start of the fifth chapter, but that is all he says about it. I really wish we could have seen more into how he dealt with the death and the emotion involved in it. This might have given us a better look into his own death.

  • Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:

1. I learned through reading Chasing Daylight that death can be a positive experience. It is all about how people perceive it. It they let death beat them, then it can only be negative. However, the way Eugene approached death and learned from it was very positive and healthy.

2. This book made me think differently about how important it is to achieve balance in our lives. In today’s world everyone has so many different lives to live. Whether it is there business life and personal life, or even there social life, people have to know how to achieve balance. If we don’t achieve balance within our life we will lose focus on what is really important to us.

3. The last thing that the book made me think differently about is how closure to relationships is very important. If you are transitioning to a new job or moving from a town it is important to have closure with the one you truly care about. It gives you a sense on accomplishment when you realize the lives that have effected yours and also the lives you have effected.

  • I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:

1. I want to make a conscience effort to live in the moment everyday. We see so many of the benefits of living in the present within this book that we have to take advantage of them. I hope to make a true effort to find perfect moments in everyday by living in the present.

2. Another way I will apply what I have learned by reading chasing daylight is to simplify the things in my life. I say yes to way to many things in life and constantly have to much on my plate at a time. I need to learn how to say no sometimes so I will have more time to enjoy life.

3. Finally, I will make sure I have great closure with good friends of mine when I am in a transitioning phase in my life. Whether I am taking a new job or moving to a new state, I need to make time for adequate closure with the true relationships in my life.

  • Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:

I have really enjoyed reading reviews on Chasing Daylight. I see just how many lives Eugene O’Kelly impacted by writing this book. Time and time again we see people saying how genuine and real Eugene O’Kelly is. This book is very inspirational and teaches us life lessons that we should apply to our lives everyday. All of the reviews are full of praise and encouragement for Eugene O’Kelly and his family.
In the review from the New York Times Janet Maslin says Eugene O’Kelly, “…did not become one of the world’s great philosophers. But he wound up voicing universal truths not often found in business or how-to tracts. He shared them simply and clearly.” I think this is amazing way to sum up Eugene O’Kelly’s writing style. He is blunt and simple about the great things that life and death have to offer.


Berfield, S. (2006, February 27). Even In Death, Gene O’Kelly Wanted To Succeed . In Bloomberg Businessweek . Retrieved March 28, 2011, from http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_09/b3973101.htm

Breedlove, D. (n.d.). Book Review – Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly. In Ezine Articles . Retrieved March 28, 2011, from http://ezinearticles.com/?Book-Review—Chasing-Daylight-by-Eugene-OKelly&id=2888172

Feld, B. (2006, March 16). Book Review: Chasing Daylight. In Feld Thoughts. Retrieved March 28, 2011, from http://www.feld.com/wp/archives/2006/03/book-review-chasing-daylight.html

Maslin, J. (2006, January 30). With Just Months Left to Live, a Boss Offers a New Mission Statement: Seize the Day. In The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2011, from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/30/books/30masl.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

O’Kelly, E. (2008). Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.


Contact Info

To contact the author of this article, “A Summary and Review of Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly for Thinking Executives – and Those Who Want to be One,” please email cole.wardell@selu.edu or wardell.cole@gmail.com.  


David C. Wyld (dwyld.kwu@gmail.com) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.com/), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of works he has helped his students to turn into editorially-reviewed publications at the following sites:



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