What Would They Say About You At Your Funeral?

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?

1 thought on “What Would They Say About You At Your Funeral?

  1. To go off the beaten path of a contributing member of a free market capitalistic soceiety is the bane of its existance. For this country to be the wealthiest and strongest nation, comes sarcrifices. It amazes me that people hem and haw about needing more family time, wanting to put friends and family first, but yet staunchly defend and progress the whole concept of free market capitalism. We plae that economic model on the same pedestals as freedom, the american flag and the bald eagle. When someone like me says it is not only a flawed model but a selfish and devouring model, I am labled as unpatriotic. Tehn I go onto say that true marxist communism (which has never been practiced) would be the utopian world model (nobody has any more or any less than one another) I am a downright evil person. At what expense does our mindset of this “patriotic” model lead us to? I once took a class at a well known university where I live and one of my classmates happened to be the daughter of a very high up executive at a very large and well know networking company that I worked for. The guy, needless to say, was a total dick. I figured his daughter would be too, but after talking to her, she was a very needy person. Every year she would drive a new car her dad would buy her. Always had designer clothes, lived off campus in a condo her Dad bought her, always had money, etc. But all she ever wanted from her Dad, was his time. She told me none of the material things mattered and if she had to do it over again, she would rather be in a making ends meet family that kept her dad close by all year and had days to the state fair, walks in a park, etc. than have him traveling all over the world busting heads to get to the top. When I asked her if she loved her Dad, she responded “I don’t know what love is…”

    How sad for her not to know the love from a father. What is even more sad is the fact that it wasn’t because he was dead, or a deadbeat, but rather because he was more focused on his career because he had aspirations. He will never know the joy of being a father and all of those once in a life time moments are now missed oppertunities for him. A good example of one of those moments was when my son earned his bobcat badge in cub scouts the other night. All of the parents of the scouts earning their badges stood behind their kids while the scoutmaster read the requirements and what it meant to take this next step – for both the child and the parent. We lighted a blue candle and then both of us lighted a white candle. As that night ended I thought to myself “That moment will be gone forever now, thank God I didn’t miss it.”

    That executive spent most of his time on the road, for his company. He missed those opportunities.

    In the end days of our lives, when all things come together as one, we will all review our lives. We will look back and only two things will be there – fulfillment and unfulfillment. It is now, in the present, we have to decide what is truly fullfilling. The rest, trails in a distance.

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