Friday, February 22, 2008

Write Your Eulogy

Black. There is so much black. Suits and dresses and slacks and shoes. And then there are the tears, intermingled with a laugh here and there. And in the middle of it all is the coffin, the reason why everyone is there, in black and in tears. And inside that coffin is you. Your practice is over, your career is over and most importantly, your life is over. And as you lay there, the room grows quiet as someone approaches the podium to say a few words. This is your eulogy - your life encapsulated in a few minutes - and everything you’ve done, the life you have led and the values you have held are about to be laid bare to those whose lives were influenced by your words and by your acts.

What will this person say about you? Will he speak in generalities? Will he say what he is suppose to say and will everybody nod their heads like they are suppose to nod? Or will the speaker actually be moved by your life, by your legacy and will those sitting in the folding chairs forget for a few minutes about how hard their seats are and reflect on how their lives are different - how their lives are better - because of you?

If you want to leave a legacy, if you want your life to mean something to others, to mean something after your gone, start with your eulogy. Sit down and write it out. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want those who remain behind to say about you? What are the nouns, and the verbs and the adjectives you want used to describe you? Write it down. Every last word - the anecdotes from your life, the nuggets of wisdom you shared, the acts of kindness you did - in black and white, right in front of you.

There. All your accomplishments, dreams and hopes fulfilled - reduced to a few pages. Now here comes the hard part. How close are you to fulfilling your legacy? How much of that eulogy is accurate and how much of it remains unfulfilled hopes and dreams? By writing your eulogy, you can see where you want to be and how far it is from here to there. You can reflect on what truly matters - the things you will do and the values you will live by that will cause you to have an impact well beyond your own lifetime.

You will realize, as I, that so much of what we do and so much of what consumes our thoughts is rather petty, small and insignificant. By reflecting on the life you should have lived, now instead on your deathbed, you can make the changes while there is still time. You can make the changes to leave the legacy you want, and make your funeral, whether decades or just years from now, a celebration of a life well lived. Now go and plan out how you’re going to make them dance in the aisles.

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