This past month, I attended a funeral, which had a profound effect on me. It was for a former childhood friend whose life was cut short by a sudden illness. I arrived early and watched a diverse group of people arrive to pay their final respects – young, old, mom, dad, extended family, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, teammates and college friends. I had no idea that he had touched so many people in a mere 40 years.
When the service began, I could not help by reflect on the many positive experiences he and I shared together as kids. I actually found myself smiling as I thought of all the mischief we got into together. They say life works in mysterious ways and I would certainly agree as I often find uncommon insight from uncommon places. I had no idea that he had accomplished so much while affecting so many people along the way. It was not his professional accomplishments that surprised me so much but rather his growth as a man and the legacy he left in his community. It was apparent from how others described him that he led a rich but loving life. I found myself pondering what seems to be a cliché, yet worth asking:
If this were my funeral today, who would show up and what would they say?
I am convinced that few would care about my German automobile, the square footage of my home, my Rolex watch or the numerous awards that I received for outstanding achievement during my career. My friend’s passing served as a wake-up call because it put things in perspective as to just how precious life is for all of us. I have made a commitment to myself to invest time and effort in real relationships the remainder of my life. My friend was my age – another reminder that you cannot take any given day for granted! In what seems like a constant race for more stuff, it is easy to lose sight of what matters most. As you continue to build your personal brand, make sure you also spend some time contemplating what your legacy will be when your time comes too.
It is only fitting that I ask you; whom would you most like to see at your funeral and what would you want them to say? What are you doing to invest in those relationships today?