‘A skinny, pretty, billionaire philanthropist who had it all. Someone whose wit and warmth were as famous as her breathtaking beauty…’ that’s how my friend Sharon wants to be remembered she dies.
Joan Rivers aimed just as high with this quote: ‘One morning you’ll wake up and read a headline: Joan Rivers Found Dead…On George Clooney’s Face. Clooney Was So Bereft All He Could Say Was, “Xjfhfyrnem.”—’
More seriously, in her last ever interview, she said: ‘[Death is] inevitable. It’s no longer an abstract thing. It’s like, God, I’m in my eighties. Nobody, when I die, is going to say, “how young?” They’re going to say, she had a great ride.’
As for British actress Lynda Bellingham, who died recently, said she wanted to be remembered as: ‘Just as an honest person…Trust is a huge thing… just to say, ‘You could trust her’.’
How do you want to be remembered when you die?
This is the main question in HABIT TWO of the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Stephen Covey argues that we should be kept uppermost in our mind, so that every day we stay on the right track and do the things that will lead us towards being the kind of person we want to be.
He says: ‘It’s amazingly easy to get caught up in an activity trap in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. We may be very efficient by working frenetically and heedlessly, but we be effective only when we begin with the end result in mind.’
Covey goes so far as to tell us to WRITE YOUR OWN EULOGY so that you’re really clear on exactly that you want. So here’s what he says in detail:
HABIT TWO – BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
WRITE YOUR OWN EULOGY
‘In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. As you walk into the chapel, notice the flowers, the soft organ music,’ writes Covey.
‘As you reach the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come fact to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from now. Take a seat and look down at the programme in your hand. The first speaker is from your extended family; the second is a close friend, the third is an acquaintance from your business life; the forth is from your church or some community-serviced organisation where you’ve works.’
‘What character would you like each of these speakers to have seen in you – what difference would you like to have made in their lives?’
WRITE A MISSION STATEMENT
Along the same theme he suggests that we also write a personal mission statement which ‘describes what we want to be (character) and to do (achievements).’ This mission statement is to be based on unchanging principles of who you want to be. So a couple of famous examples:
OPRAH WINFREY’s mission is: ‘To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.’
SIR RICHARD BRANSON’s mission is ‘To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes. In business, know how to be a good leader and always try to bring out the best in people. It’s very simple: listen to them, trust in them, believe in them, respect them, and let them have a go!’
Covey suggests breaking this mission statement down into different areas of your life: So family, friends, partner, work, community. He says that ‘the power lies in the fact that it’s fundamentally changeless. The key to living with change is retaining and sense of who you are and what you value.’
He also says that it’s a way of keeping rounded – many of us might think that we value our family and friends and yet our actual life is spent at the office or worrying about work. That means that we are not living the life we are meant to be living. Having a mission statements helps us to be really clear on all the areas of our life that are important.