This post was originally published on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at http://www.greatleadersserve.org
WHEN YOU’RE DEAD…
I went to a funeral today. When’s the last time you went to one? How did it affect you? Do you ever leave a funeral service with questions? I do. One of my recurring questions is… Did the people who spoke say what the deceased would have wanted them to say?
The answer to my question always depends on one thing – if the person lived their life on purpose, the remarks were likely on target. If the person lived a life devoid of purpose, the deceased may not have been happy with what was said in their absence.
One of the best activities I’ve ever done was to sit down and think deeply about what I want to be true in my life in 30 years. If you’ve not tried something like this, I highly recommend it. I wrote a post about my process entitled, Start with the End in Mind.
I can’t overstate the power of this single activity. As leaders, we create the future. That’s our core competency! So, when we apply the same process to our life, amazing things can happen.
Think about any of the arenas in which you lead. If you are leading well, you are pursuing something. Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. Then, once you’ve got the picture, you can make strategic and thoughtful decisions about the highest and best use of your time, energy and resources. The same process applies in our lives.
So, who gets to decide what people will say about you and me at our funerals? The best answer I can come up with is, we do. It’s a tired saying, but it’s still true, we are writing our own eulogy. Every day we get a chance to provide those who survive us material for their remarks at our final service. What are we equipping people to say about us?
Today, Curtis Turner’s remains were laid to rest. I didn’t know him, but I do know, based on the testimony of those who did, he lived his life on purpose. He dedicated himself to serving others. He served his church, his family and his community. That’s not something that happens by chance. He made the choice to serve. It was not a one-time decision; rather, it was one he made over and over again for decades.
Great legacies are never an accident. They are the sum of the decisions we make and the actions we take. My encouragement to you is to decide now what you want people to say when you’re gone and start living such that they can say nothing else. When we align our actions with our aspirations, our eulogy is written years in advance.
What will people say about you when you’re dead?
Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else. In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.
The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret will be released September 2, 2014.