I saw a cartoon showing an old king checking in at the gates of heaven. He introduced himself as “Edward The Good.” The gatekeeper with a large book in front of him said, “Well, Eddie, we’ll be the judge of that.”
The point is that, in the end, generous self-appraisals won’t matter. Our epitaphs will be written and eulogies delivered by the people who knew how we lived.
There’s a story told about Alfred Nobel reading his own obituary because the people at the newspaper mistakenly thought he’d died. This gave him the opportunity to see how he would be remembered. The article described Mr. Nobel as a brilliant chemist who made a great fortune as the inventor of dynamite. For lots of people, being remembered a brilliant and rich would be quite enough, but it wasn’t for Mr. Nobel.
After significant reflection about his desire to leave a more positive legacy, he bequeathed his considerable wealth to establish the Nobel Prizes to acknowledge great human achievements.
Few of us can create something as momentous as the Nobel Prizes, but we can all live lives that earn a eulogy our children and parents would be proud of.
In the hurlyburly of everyday living, it’s hard to keep perspective. Money, position, pride, and power seem so important – until they’re not. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
So, if you want to know how to live your life, just think about what you want people to say about you after you die and live backwards.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.