5 minute read.
Nobody wants to think about this subject. I get it. It’s scary to think about. Almost as scary as getting up to do a presentation or public speech without preparation. But there is an uplifting message to this, I promise.
Everyone has a job or several jobs to do, whether they get paid for it or not. It can be related to corporate, professional, manual labor, technical, service, political, religious, academic, artistic, or domestic. There are many types of jobs and careers, and many leadership opportunities.
Think about this question for a moment. How do you want to be remembered after you’re gone?
What a great question! It gives you a chance to stroke your ego a bit. Ego is what you think of yourself. It’s the definition of being an individual human being. But ego can lead to pride and narcissism, so you also need to have a healthy dose of self-criticism and the ability to fix your mistakes.
Personally, for me, I’d like to be remembered as a designer, writer, and researcher. I developed a recent love for public speaking because I found out how to do it most effectively. Now I use public speaking as a vehicle to spread messages and value about researching, writing, and designing.
I never had any political aspirations or desire to climb the corporate ladder. I just wanted to help people in some way. I believe I found the best way to do that. I messed up a lot in my life, and I’d like to help people realize they don’t need to make the same mistakes I did.
If you think about it, your ego is not stationary. You are a transient being by nature. Everyone has a timeline; a storyboard where various chapters have been played out and will continue to unfold for the rest of your life. By nature, you are ambiguous, arbitrary, paradoxical, and highly fractured.
What will you say on your deathbed?
If you are like most people, you won’t say something like, “If only I had spent more time at the office.” It will more likely be “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard and spent more time with my family.” But most people are too busy living their life to stop and imagine the regrets they might have when they are about to die.
Other things people say when they realize it’s too late:
- I wish I had saved more and planned better for my retirement.
- I wish I had taken better care of my health.
- I wish I had children or spent more time with my children.
- I wish I had married the right person.
If you are lucky, you might hope your friends say you weren’t a complete moron. But what if they do? Once you’re dead, who cares, right?
If you’ve worked on your education and developed a career that you are at least fairly satisfied with, you will probably have created and contributed to chains of cause and effect, for better or worse that will go on for the rest of humanity.
If you have kids, future generations will have your genes. Hopefully your genes do more good than harm. But that’s the genetic lottery for you. It’s not perfect, but as long as we are alive, it keeps on rolling.
Regardless of what people say or think, you shouldn’t care. As long you can live comfortably with yourself in your own skin, that’s all that matters.
Suppose your mission in life is to foster the development of the human condition through kindness, compassion, and generosity. Whether you succeed or not is a different matter. But we all must do our part to help each other. That’s all you can ask of yourself or anyone else.
For however long you live, you would hope someone says “She was a kind person.” Kindness has many levels. It means that you caused no harm by intention. It also means that you tried to think well of others and not spread rumors or lies. It means that you treated your world with respect and care.
I would rather be thought of as kind than rich or powerful or even brilliant. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many books you read, or how many hours you worked at your job, or how many products or services you sold. I would always want to be remembered for my acts of kindness, compassion, and generosity.
No one is asking you to focus on doing good deeds 24/7. But all of us have our moments, and your good moments should always be recognized and affirmed.
When you think of what you did in your life so far, do you have any regrets? Regrets are usually based on not achieving something you really wanted in your life. Your regrets may stem from not having a particular opportunity or not taking advantage of the opportunity when it was presented.
You may not have recognized certain opportunities when they were right there in front of your eyes. Having regrets is often a by-product of bad timing. If you try to accomplish something you want, and you do it at the wrong time and fail, you may convince yourself that it won’t work or you weren’t meant to have it.
Your failure may cause you to be so frustrated or disappointed so much to the point that you never want to try it again.
What if your dreams really could become a reality instead of regrets?
They can become a reality if you pay attention to the signs and signals in your life. In other words, keep your eyes open. Timing may never be perfect, but that’s no excuse not to watch for chances and then pounce on them. To be successful in anything, you have to recognize the opportunity and then want it in your life.
Close your eyes for a moment and think about your dreams. Some of your dreams might be finding the right partner, having a job or career that really makes a difference, having children, making more money, having a secure nest egg for retirement, having excellent health, or being able to travel any time you want.
It has everything to do with initiating action at the right time, in the right place, and with the right people. Then you will be able to optimize your chances of achieving success. For me, this happened with public speaking. I chose to get involved with the right people at the right time, and it has paid huge dividends ever since!
It also happened for me at different times in my life when I decided to seek a career in development and design, and when I became a professional photographer as well.
I was once watching a friend of mine give a speech at a local ceremony. He was on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, and the event was for students who were recognized for being in the top 5 of their graduating class. I was one of the proud dads at this ceremony because my daughter was one of the students receiving this award.
My friend said something in his speech that I never forgot: “How do you want to be remembered when you are gone? Do you think anyone will care if you created a great web page, or designed a nice looking room, or cooked a meal, or washed clothes? No one will care about your job when you are gone. What you should focus on is what kind of leader you want to be, and the opportunities you took to make that leadership potential come true.”
How will you take advantage of leadership opportunities in your life, and what steps will you take to make that happen? Email me with the answer. I look forward to hearing your response.
More great articles on research, interviews, writing, design, and presentations are coming your way.
If you liked this article, comment, subscribe, and share it with your family and friends on your favorite social media app.