What a crazy thing to ask. But that’s the ultimate question Steven Covey confronts you with when he talks about Habit 2 of the Seven Habits – “Begin With The End In Mind”:
People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them. People from every walk of life – doctors, academicians, actors, politicians, business professionals, athletes, and plumbers – often struggle to achieve a higher income, more recognition or a certain degree of professional competence, only to find that their drive to achieve their goal blinded them to the things that really mattered most and are now gone.
How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most….
…If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success.
That’s a direct quote from the book. In the not distant past I had put friends and family on the sidelines while I pushed as hard as I could for individual career success – and I’ve come very far. Shit – I am proof the American Dream exists. But along the way I became an asshole to the people that really mattered – the people that will think of me longer then five seconds and go “oh, that’s a shame”, when my ticket is punched.
The last two years I’ve walked down a different path. With it comes new insecurities I didn’t have before – or cared to think about. With it even comes career risk – I still do my best – but now first at home.
Sadly I’ve done this largely out of shock, not noble purpose. The death of my nephew, my wife’s grand parents, 9/11. How many vowed to look at life different and quickly forgot how important the short time we have with our loved ones is? I know I have on a few occasions.
Modern America doesn’t seem structured for thinking this way. Haven’t you felt guilty for not spending time on work when you are spending time chatting to a friend or family member? During off the clock hours I’m talking about! Hasn’t your mind wondered to work issues when someone is talking to you? Mine does almost instinctively sometimes. It’s wrong.
To be a family man is to be a rebel and out of the mainstream. Who woulda thunk it? When did this happen? According to this week’s NYTimes Magazine, a growing number of women are deciding to be rebels too. Maybe there is hope after all.
Read the quote again. It kinda says it all doesn’t it?