There are times in our lives when we have what are called “a-ha moments” or moments when an idea is put in front of us in such a way that it changes the way we think about certain things…
I am in major self-development mode, which means I am digging into books and bible studies and talking to people I can learn from in order to – well, be a better person all the way around.
So, it was while I was reading the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (please bear with me here) that one of those ideas took my breath away momentarily, made me sit back in my chair, and go “whoa.” The author, Stephen Covey, presents the following to us… (and he suggests that you are undistracted as you read this, make sure things are as quiet as possible, if possible):
“In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.
As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.
As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first is from your family, immediate and also extended – children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend. The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you’ve been involved in service.
Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate?
What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?”
Did you say “whoa?” Or maybe something similar?
This is actually something I have thought of before. I’m sure you have, too – at some time in your life. But, seeing the words written out in front of you puts it in a different perspective. It really is something to think about!
So I will ask you the same questions I asked myself… What are you doing right now that is changing lives for the better? What contribution are you making? In what way do you want to be remembered? Is the impact I’m having on my children, on my husband, positive or negative?
Here’s the deal, friends – even if you aren’t doing the things RIGHT NOW that you think can make a POSITIVE difference or influence in others’ lives, you can START doing something now. Just because we haven’t yet, doesn’t mean we are a lost cause.
What do you want your loved ones – people you work with – people you know – to say about you after you have left this world? I would think we would ALL want to have made a positive, lasting legacy – even if it is “just” within our own family.
This – this is about the way we live our lives on a daily basis. This is about our attitudes and the way we treat people, every day.
This is one of those things we may need to print out and put on our bathroom mirror. “What do you want people to say about you when you’re gone?”
Live today like you’re making a lasting impact – because you are.
(Selection in italics is from the 25th Anniversary Edition of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. Obviously, I highly recommend it.)