This past week, I had the experience of attending my grandfather-in-law, Bill Sinnott’s funeral. It forced me to re-evaluate just where I’m at in this thing called life and business, and reminded me about an activity that could help you with such an evaluation.
My internal evaluation process began during the visitation services. After taking a break from watching over my two rambunctious boys, I walked up the stairs to the main section of the funeral home.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
In this small-town Iowa funeral home, I witnessed a line that zig-zagged through the hallways and then out the building and along the wall. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought the next iPhone launch was happening.
If I’m a guessing man, I’d say 50% of the town was either at, coming to, or leaving from the funeral home.
It should have been no surprise to me.
This man served our country in the 187th Airborne during the Korean War, worked as a General Manager of the Waterloo White Hawks Baseball Club (then Chicago White Sox Minor League affiliate), and then made his name owning and running one of the most successful insurance agencies in the state of Iowa.
But, here’s what really got my mind going. At the funeral, Bill’s eulogy started like this, “Here is a man that touched a LOT of lives…and who’s biggest priority was his family.”
Wait a minute.
The man was ultra-successful, had a resume longer than the Declaration of Independence, and the first things mentioned had nothing to do with that?
Bill’s life mission was clear: touch lives. His life’s priority was even clearer: family first. He honored both, while becoming one of the most successful professionals in the state.
Did you catch that?
His professional success was a by-product of his personal mission and priorities. Yes, they’re connected.
If your mission and priorities are not as clear as you want them to be, chances are you’re leaving your platform for impact to be desired. The good news is I have a way for you to re-connect.
It may sound morbid, but this activity is powerful: Write your own eulogy.
This concept was introduced to me through Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt’s book, Living Forward. The authors compare the activity to planning a vacation. With a vacation, you always start with the end in mind in order to plan your ideal one.
I wrote my eulogy last year and review it regularly, but Bill’s services forced me to re-evaluate my current day-to-day actions and mindset, and then compare them to what I wrote.
It’s one thing to write our eulogy. It’s another thing to strive for what’s written in it.
If you honestly want to re-connect with your mission and priorities, trust me, writing your own eulogy and regularly comparing your actions and mindset to it will get you there. There’s something about the process that engages every one of your senses and forces you to put things in perspective.
As Harkavy and Hyatt share, ask yourself the following questions before sitting down to write it out:
- What would those closest to me remember about my life?
- What stories would they tell one another?
- Would those stories make them laugh, cry, sigh, or all three?
- How would they summarize what my life meant to them?
My passionate plea to you: don’t try to shortcut this activity. Take time off. Hide from distractions – people and technology.
Investing in this activity is investing in your legacy. You owe it to yourself and to those you care about.
I would absolutely love reading what you write. Please feel free to contact me directly to share!