It is said that on Halloween night, the veil between the world of the living and of the dead is at its thinnest. With that in mind, I thought I’d offer up this cheery reminder: you are going to die. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday (unless that cryogenics investment really does pay off). Perhaps some of you are wondering what the specter of your imminent demise has to do management and leadership. To me, it represents the biggest of the big pictures, the longest of the long-term views. It is the gut-check, the drive to seek meaning and purpose, the longing to leave a legacy. If you knew your days were numbered, what choices might you make differently?
Are you happy with how your work dovetails with the rest of your life? If tomorrow were your last day on the planet, would you weigh the number of family dinners and sleepy Saturdays you enjoyed against the number of late nights in the office and be satisfied? How can you be more strategic with your hours so that you can use your time on earth to do things that breathe inspiration back into your work and life? Are you just showing up every day or really putting your heart into it – are in a job, a career, or a calling? What bold moves will you regret not taking, what ideas left unescorted into being?
Maya Angelou is credited with saying, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Is your influence on your colleagues a positive one? Are you the person people avoid when the going gets rough, or the one people seek out for support? Are there relationships you aren’t nurturing, people you aren’t mentoring but could? Do you treat people at all levels of the organization with dignity and respect and the sense that you are all in it together? Would you wish you had lingered over yet another office birthday cake or stopped by happy hour more often? What is your reputation among coworkers, and is it in alignment with how you want to be viewed and valued, long after you’re gone?
You are both replaceable and irreplaceable. If you stopped showing up at work one day, someone would be hired to fill your position, it is true. And yet, we all leave a mark on the world, our own unique impression. What will you want to have left behind? What do you want to be remembered for?
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin