The only strategy you will ever need

Have you mapped out your life’s strategy?  Figured out how to balance it all and make it all work?  Made a list of all of your short term and long term goals with dates and steps to achieve them?  Well, I think I have an idea that may simplify this for all of us.

I spent this afternoon at a service to celebrate the life of a member of the community who had unexpectedly passed away.  He was truly a pillar of the community like people were back in the 1950’s.  He was the superintendent at our school for 20+ years and even after he retired (20+ years ago) he continued to be an active member of the American Legion & Lions Club.  It was a great service with his family sharing stories about the private side of the public man who not many people were privileged to see.  After the service was concluded at the church, the funeral procession (led by the town police officer) drove out of town and by the high school as a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his career to the young people of our town.  The fire truck blocked the main street as the procession came back into town and filed into the cemetery.  It really was something to see.

What I am going to tell you now is something we all know.  Throughout the few hours I was there and listened to everyone speak, there was not one mention of his salary, cars, status, vacations, accomplishments, or any other material things.  What was talked of was his character, passions, commitments, integrity, loving nature, and faith in God.  This is what we all know but still do nothing about.  We all attend funerals (unfortunately more as we grow older) but we are able to somehow compartmentalize the impact and think we will have time later to do something about it.

I can tell you with certainty that we will not have this time to do it “later”.  As Apollo Creed told Rocky during their sparring session in “Rocky 3”, “There is no tomorrow”.  I have taught business strategy to MBA students for the last 5 years and we have often discussed how those tools and theories can be leveraged in our personal lives as well as business.  While that is true, I am a huge fan of tackling things in the simplest manner possible and trying not to over-complicate things.

To that end, here is the simplest and only strategy you will ever need.  I don’t care what you do for a living, how old you are, your social status, or any other arbitrary societal measurement we use.  Forget about all of these and just do the following:

  1. Write your eulogy. This needs to be specific as you detail what you want others to say about your life and how you lived it.  Give it the time & thought it deserves and ensure it encompasses all the things that are important to you.
  2. As soon as it is completed, IMMEDIATELY begin doing whatever is necessary so that those you leave behind will feel the sentiments your wrote on the paper.  In a very short time, your priorities will begin to align effortlessly as you think less of things and more of people.  More about those things that you want said about your faith, your character, your passions, and your sense of family.  What will they say about the private side of your public persona?
  3. Revisit it from time to time and keep it updated.  It should be the only vision, mission, strategy, or statement of purpose you will ever need.

In the greatest paradox of life, the most important things in our lives cannot be “taken away” by others but can certainly be “thrown away” by those to whom they belong.

Mr. Brookover, thank you for your dedication and service to the our community.

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Filed under Looking in the mirror, Real Life, The Human Condition

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