This has been a tough week. A dear friend’s husband had a stroke. A young acquaintance died. A friend lost a job. Another friend had a baby girl. The juxtaposition of all these events has made me think of mortality and therefore, my legacy. What will people remember about me? What difference will I make in the world? Whether today is my last day or I have 50 more years, what impact will I have on my world?
Steven Covey, in his best seller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, made one of the habits “Begin with the end in mind.” Obviously, it is hard for us to begin with our legacy in mind. As children, we can’t grasp the concept of a legacy. We feel immortal and think in the present. As children we aren’t able to grasp how we can/will have an impact. We live our lives, usually as best we can, and we get smarter. At some point, we suddenly realize that our existence in this world can change the world and that we can influence that. That’s the really cool part. We can influence it.
Have you thought about it? I probably first thought about it when I attended a Leadership Development program in my late twenties. I was about the same age as the young acquaintance who died this week. They had us write an obituary. Begin with the end in mind. When you read obituaries, you get a snapshot of people’s lives–what was important to them–
- their families
- their military record
- their accomplishments
- their publications
- their interests
(For one of the most interesting obituaries, read this one.)
Obituaries take it down to the most important things in your life. So for you, what is that? Are you focused on the things that are most important to you? Is that how you spend your time? Or do you spend your time on what other people think is important?
When you encounter life events like I have this week–a death of a young person, a friend with a stroke, a birth of a baby–it helps to re-focus you on what is important.
The most important things to me are:
- my family
- my work
- my students and clients
What about you? What will people say about you? What are you focused on? What are you ‘wasting’ your time on? Are you proud of what you have accomplished so far? What else do you want to accomplish? What are you going to do about it? You have the ability to influence it. Today. Tomorrow. As many tomorrows as you have.