What do you want your legacy to be?
Forget for a moment about marketing materials, your website, social media, referrals and that sort of thing.
Think about what I like to refer to as your ultimate personal branding; your tombstone, your obituary, your legacy. What do you expect or better yet, wish people would say about you at your funeral? Be honest, what do you want to be said in the conversations behind closed doors? At the coffee shops? In the grocery store? Or the board room?
I was in the middle of writing this post when I happened to get my Tip of the Day from Michael Neill at Supercoach.com. I was shocked to see that he had written almost exactly what I had been thinking. So in keeping with my productivity strategies, why duplicate work? Well said Michael!
Here’s Michael’s post:
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. – Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Have you ever heard the question “How many people on their deathbed they wish they’d spent more time at the office?”
For me, this always begged another question:
When people are on their deathbed, where do they wish they’d spent more time?
One of the more famous answers comes in this essay, often attributed to a woman named Nadine Stair but originally published in 1955 by humorist Don Hero
If I had my life to live over, I would try to make more mistakes. I would relax. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I know of very few things that I would take seriously. I would be less hygienic. I would go more places. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less bran.
I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary troubles. You see, I have been one of those fellows who live prudently and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I have had my moments. But if I had it to do over again, I would have more of them – a lot more. I never go anywhere without a thermometer, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had it to do over, I would travel lighter.
It may be too late to unteach an old dog old tricks, but perhaps a word from the unwise may be of benefit to a coming generation. It may help them to fall into some of the pitfalls I have avoided.
If I had my life to live over, I would pay less attention to people who teach tension. In a world of specialization we naturally have a superabundance of individuals who cry at us to be serious about their individual specialty. They tell us we must learn Latin or History; otherwise we will be disgraced and ruined and flunked and failed. After a dozen or so of these protagonists have worked on a young mind, they are apt to leave it in hard knots for life. I wish they had sold me Latin and History as a lark.
I would seek out more teachers who inspire relaxation and fun. I had a few of them, fortunately, and I figure it was they who kept me from going entirely to the dogs. From them I learned how to gather what few scraggly daisies I have gathered along life’s cindery pathway.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted a little earlier in the spring and stay that way a little later in the fall. I would play hooky more. I would shoot more paper wads at my teachers. I would have more dogs. I would keep later hours. I’d have more sweethearts. I would fish more. I would go to more circuses. I would go to more dances. I would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I would be carefree as long as I could, or at least until I got some care – instead of having my cares in advance.
More errors are made solemnly than in fun. The rubs of family life come in moments of intense seriousness rather that in moments of light-heartedness. If nations – to magnify my point – declared international carnivals instead of international war, how much better that would be!
I first came across the phrase ‘deathbed goals’ in the book Conscious Living by Gay Hendricks, and I immediately resonated with the idea. What are those goals which, on your deathbed, you will either be glad you achieved or regret not having achieved?
By devoting your life to these goals now, you ensure yourself a meaningful life, regardless of how things turn out…
(I’ve filled in my own answers to these questions below. If you would like to share your answers with me, please send them to email@example.com!)
1. When you are on your deathbed, what are the four or five most important things you will wish you had done or be glad you did?
My answers :
1. Been a good father
2. Been a good husband
3. Been a good friend
4. Been a good person
5. Lived a good life
2. Imagine your funeral (or if you prefer, your 80th birthday). What would you like each of the important people in your life to say about you?
Turns out, I won’t really care if I was successful in the eyes of the world. I’ll settle for being successful in the eyes of Nina, Oliver, Clara, and Maisy! Here’s what I’d love to hear them say:
He always endeavoured to live what he taught and when it mattered, teach what he lived. The truth is, we liked who we were when we were with him. We became experts, geniuses, capable, resourceful, funny, loving, caring, and kind. Eventually, we realized we were that way even without him there. He was always supportive, but it turned out he was only holding us up long enough for us to get used to the altitude and realize we could fly.
3. How would you like your epitaph to read?
A friend to life and all who dwell within her.
Have fun, learn heaps, and live your life by the mercy of what matters most to you.
Reprinted from Michael Neill’s Supercoach.com