Morbid question? Maybe. A life-changing question? Undoubtedly.
Why so? Because if we live for likes and shares and comments of our vacation photos, humblebrags, and trigger-happy tweets, should we not care about what accolades our final chapter rings in?
Before you get any ideas, I want to clarify that I don’t dwell on the subject of death often. But something transpired recently that forced me to confront the topic of our legacy once we leave the planet. And that was the untimely and tragic death of Rod Lappin. But here is the twist. I don’t know Rod. I have never met him in my life. Yet his death left me shaken and stirred.
I had heard of Rod, not once or twice, but dozens of times through my wife. She and Rod were peers at Lenovo until recently. And my wife and I have been around the block a few times and have routinely exchanged notes about a lot of our ex-colleagues in our myriad jobs. But every once in a while, there is someone special you encounter who impacts you and makes you a better person just because of who they are.
And I realized that Rod was in this category of human beings after listening to my wife. And it would recess into memory after every conversation but would surface periodically when she had an impactful interaction with him (which was pretty much every time). And it was always a positive and uplifting experience. Once my wife left Lenovo, for obvious reasons her interactions with Rod were less frequent but the energy with which she would refer to her sporadic interactions with him still caused me to raise an eyebrow and take notice.
And then one morning I saw her face and immediately I knew something was really amiss (note that yours truly is not a very good observer of facial emotions so you can imagine what a study her face must have been). And she blurted out in a halting voice – “Rod is no more. He had a sudden collapse in his hotel and never recovered. And his family is being flown in from Australia.” And she choked up.
And then it started. The genesis for this whole blog. I looked him up on LinkedIn. And the likes, shares and the comments for the numerous eulogies that started pouring in on LinkedIn. The more I read them, the more I was shaken and stirred. Why? Because there was a common theme in all of them. He lived one life. He had one face. And he treated everyone around him – big or small – direct report or peer or boss or friend – with the same insanely positive vibe and support. Over and over again during his entire 47 years of vibrant life.
And the comments reflected how consistently, simply and powerfully he held onto life’s anchors and espoused the same to everyone around him. #KeepSmiling #HateInLoveOut #CreamAlwaysRisesToTheTop
For the sake of brevity, I will just quote one from hundreds of comments.
That was his Raison D’être – his reason for existence.
In fact, in a blog post he wrote in November titled, ‘You Need To Take Risks To Own Your Destiny’. “When I can help good people get the most out of themselves, the feeling is incomparable.”
That was the whole meaning of his life. What every one of us should live and die for.
I feel grateful and lucky to have known of Rod through my wife. I continue to read the comments on the dozens of posts that have been authored since that fateful day.
And redoubling my efforts to answer this simple question every day when I wake up. How many likes, shares, comments will I get when my obituary is written? Sorry – wrong question, that was just to check if you are paying attention!
This is the only question that matters.
Then I would have lived a life like Rod. #RIPRod