It was an unproductive conversation about goals, progress, and next steps toward our visions. Two of us were meeting virtually as planned. Two were on their phones while driving. That was unplanned. One was headed to St. Louis for the anticipated arrival of his new granddaughter and the other to California for his dad’s unanticipated funeral. The beginning and the end of life strangely connected.
Connectedness is one of my top five StrengthsFinder Themes. I tend to see things as somehow interrelated and interdependent. They are linked together and point to a purpose that may or may not be obvious in the moment.
We have explored the idea of purpose, before―stories of people discovering their purpose in an experience they had and an inspiration that struck them: visiting a prison led to mentoring former prisoners navigating their way back into society; surviving cancer led to serving other survivors with their unique physical fitness needs; and participating in a third-world mission trip led to going back to build a school for girls.
One life-changing experience provided clarity about a purpose that was bigger than themselves.
But what if you don’t yet have clarity of purpose?
Donald Miller, in Hero on A Mission: A Path to A Meaningful Life, suggests that, rather than looking forward to a mission, we need to engage our imagination and look, not from where we are to the end, but back from it. We need to contemplate our eulogy with an imaginative hindsight.
His heroes take action. They do things, make things happen, achieve objectives, and fulfill missions. But the hero must ultimately become the guide who can show others the way―and you can’t do that until after you have lived it yourself.
Miller asserts that writing your eulogy allows you to look back on the whole of your life before it’s over.
To create a plan for your life looking forward to the end in mind leaves room for a lot of distractions and detours along the way. Beginning with writing your eulogy invites you into your story of a meaningful life and creates a sense of urgency around it. Perhaps we’ll learn from some of the mistakes we avoid relative to the time we waste, the choices we make, or the relationships we neglect.
And it leaves me hoping I got my mom’s genes more than my dad’s. He died at age 80. She will be 89 in a couple of weeks. I’m 66. Having Mom’s genes would give me more time with those I love.
The point is, my clock is ticking. I know it. My son’s clock is ticking too, but he doesn’t appreciate it like I do.
Life is wonderful, but temporary. We aren’t here for long. The excitement of new life and the sadness of death surround us.
I have eight grandchildren – two just arrived in the past four months – while my friend’s dad was passing away at 83 with prostate cancer.
It may be time to go to Wisconsin to see my mom.
Written by Jim Gernetzke, Executive Coach and founder of Nos Lumine