I had the opportunity to interview Brad Meltzer, who apparently writes best-sellers in his sleep since he’s already racked up nine. In addition to his writing prowess, he hosts a show on the History Channel called Decoded, is married and has three kids all under the age of 11. More importantly, this is one of those rare breeds you come across who’s not only a phenomenal human, but also challenges you to follow his lead.
During a recent presentation, he gave a talk on obituaries. Sounds depressing, right? But it was just the opposite. He told a story about when he was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal for a recent charity event, they mentioned that it would most likely be mentioned in his obituary. That struck a cord. He'd never thought about his obituary before, but now that it was in his head, he wondered what the heck would be written. A year later this was still circling his thoughts, so he contacted that same interviewer and said, OK, I don't want to have to wait until I'm dead; I want to hire you to write my obituary now. Though the guy was a little confused, he agreed to do the job.
Halfway through, though, the journalist got called onto another story and shot over what he had to Brad with a note apologizing for its brevity. Brad read along until the last unfinished phrase, "Brad is a ___." And with that, Brad's natural response was, "I was a what; a good man, an honest man, a criminal, a disappointment?" That's when the question hit him, "Who will remember me and what will I be remembered for?"
He made an interesting distinction about what we will be remembered for because our personal awards, accolades and resume bullets will be mentioned, but most likely, it will be the last time they are referenced. It's the other bucket, the bucket of things we did for others that will live on far beyond our death to become our legacy. I found this fascinating. In a society where we are taught to be obsessed about personal achievement, the only investment that guarantees we are remembered is our ability to invest in the people around us.
Needless to say, this got my head spinning. Who will remember me and what will I be remembered for? It's an important question to ask yourself, especially because at the end of the day, we are in control of how we are talked about when we aren't in the room. Who we choose to be will impact our influence and our legacy.
Regardless of where I completed my undergraduate education and achieved my master's degree and in spite of all the impressive resume bullets, I care more about being a daughter, a sister, a future wife and mother, a friend and a community builder. It's a good reminder that no matter what our day jobs are, we have the opportunity every single day to be loving, patient, kind, humble, gracious, selfless and inspiring to those around us. We have the ability to love people back to life and that is what I'd want my tombstone to read. "Alexis Jones: Man, did that girl love the people she stumbled upon: She never took a day off of her life's mission or reminding people everywhere that they're awesome."
Let's Chat! Who will remember you and what will you be remembered for? It's important to wrestle with this concept because our lives really are short. Although the impact we have on others can truly be epic.
Image courtesy of Asklubo.com