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What Will People Say About You at Your Funeral?

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

Rob Clark has been a long time friend of Farewell Partners founders, Tim & Maria Covell. Earlier this year, Rob spoke to the Farewell Partners team on the topic of resilience, as discussed in his new book, Everyday Resilience for Everyday Heroes.  Little did we know then how much resilience our world would need in the months that followed.

We are thrilled to share a few words from our friend, Rob. This blog post aligns with our mission at Farewell Partners and we hope it resonates with you.

I have attended a fair number of funerals lately and it still amazes me how loved ones can deliver such insightful and eloquent remarks in their time of grief.  In these eulogies, we are presented with a window into the sometimes ordinary but always remarkable life of the deceased.  The eulogy also serves the dual purpose of honoring a tremendous life while easing the pain of those left behind to mourn.  There is something beautiful and poetic about offering the final testimony of our journey here on earth.   If there is ever a time for ultimate perspective, this is the moment.  Too bad we won’t be around to witness it!

So why not live our lives with this final perspective in mind?  Little decisions we make along the way may not seem important, but cumulatively they form our character and impact those around us.  Before acting, remember what others would say in your eulogy.  In our work lives, it can be tempting to get ahead by misrepresenting your product or offering advice that is not in the best interests of your client.    You may get a short term win in the form of a new client or a big sale.  But would you want someone retelling that story to your grandchildren at your funeral?  We may be too focused on our own career to mentor a new employee or to help a struggling colleague.  Is that the legacy you want to leave with your organization?

In our personal lives, financial struggles and other pressures can sap our energy and take our attention and focus away from our spouse or children.  It is important to work hard and build the best life possible.  But at your funeral, no one is going to talk about the size of your house or the number of cars you kept in the garage.  In the end, your family relationships and close friends will be all that matter.  We must keep that long-term perspective in mind while fighting the tumultuous storms of the present.

You have an opportunity to positively impact so many lives through your actions.  Treat your clients with respect and dignity.  Mentor a colleague so they can flourish in their new role.  (After all, somebody helped you along your own journey.)  Most importantly, work hard but do not lose sight of the close relationships with your friends and family.  These cannot be taken for granted.  These will be your legacy.

But what happens if we make a mistake along the way?  Will we be vilified at our own funeral?  Of course not!  Nobody is perfect and we should not expect this of others or ourselves.   At some point, you are bound to stumble.  That is okay.  You will be judged more for how you respond to your mistakes.  Did you take responsibility for your actions and apologize?  Did you learn from the incident and ensure it will never happen again?  Did you gain valuable perspective and an understanding of how lucky you are to have friends and family to help you through the difficult time?  If you want to live a resilient life, it is not just about experiencing adversity.  It is about how you react to adversity!  These setbacks can define your life even more than your greatest triumphs.

Stepping up and taking responsibility is one of the most courageous things you can do.  Embracing the teaching moment by not allowing it to happen again is the definition of character.   Use these stumbling blocks as an opportunity to create an inspirational, redemptive legacy.  As long as your setbacks do not impact your close relationships, they will be a blip on the radar of your life.

To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die. – Thomas Campbell

We were not put on this earth to live small.  Work hard, dream big, love deeply and create an extraordinary life.  But remember to keep your perspective along the way.  Financial security is important and a noble goal but do not jeopardize your relationships to achieve this.  If we maintain healthy, loving relationships, we have lived an extraordinary life.  If we help and mentor our colleagues, friends, and family, we have lived an extraordinary life.  If we make some mistakes along the way, but take ownership and responsibility for our actions, we have lived an extraordinary life.

Before acting, think about what people would say about you at your funeral.     Let this principle guide your actions and impact your decisions.  Stay positive!  Maintain your resiliency!  Keep your priorities straight!  Your close family and friends will be there for you in the end.  So start living your epic eulogy in the present.

We encourage you to support Rob's new book, which can be purchased here!

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