How do you want to be remembered as a leader when it is all said and done?
There is an old story told of a woman’s husband who had died and she wanted to let others know about the funeral by taking out an ad in the paper.
The person in charge of funeral notices at the paper took the call. The widow asked, “How much do funeral notices cost?” The response was, “$5.50 per word, Ma’am.”
“Good” the widow said and asked “do you have a pencil and paper handy?” “Sure do Ma’am,” the response came.
The widow then said, “Okay, please write this: ‘Fred Dead.'” The person on the other end was puzzled and said, “I’m sorry, Ma’am, I might have forgotten to mention there is a five-word minimum.”
“Hmmmmm…” the widow said as she thought. Then she asked: “Still got your pencil and paper?” “Yes, Ma’am.” came the reply. “Okay, print this: Fred dead, Cadillac for sale.'”
Obviously Fred didn’t have much of an impact. Either that or he and his wife were very broke. What kind of impact are you having on others including your spouse, children, friends, co-workers and/or boss?
Each of us as leaders has an obligation and many opportunities to leave behind a positive legacy. We have the chance to be remembered for how we have impacted others’ lives for good.
I would encourage each of us to take the time to write our own obituary. I know it sounds kind of dark and sad, but it is a powerful exercise. At the very least give it some thought.
Thinking about what we want to be remembered by spurs us to set goals that move us towards becoming what we want to be. It is beginning with the end in mind.
Do you want to be remembered as caring, thoughtful, strong, fun and/or fair? Do you want others to remember you as the best husband, best boss, best coach, and/or best dad? Were you giving, accomplished, honest and/or admired?
As you write or think about your own obituary imagine all of your successes and accomplishments. Think about the successes and accomplishments of those you have led and your impact on them. As you do, your life’s goals will become clearer and the steps to get there can be easily identified.
How do you want to be remembered? What are you doing about it today?
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