Loss gives us a chance to reflect – and focus on what matters

Starting with the end in mind.

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I recently lost a friend at 56 years old.

As we reflected about her life, it became clear that she spent a lot of time in service. To her family, community, and the causes she held dear. She served as Executive Director to our school board foundation for many years and raised a lot of money and attention for children. 

Her life reminded me of something I learned a long time ago that has re-emphasized to me each day. 

Instead of spending so much time building a resume, we should focus our life on generating the material and focusing on the important activities that will be remembered in our eulogy. 

More time spent on the important people and causes we deeply believe in and less time on creating the evidence base of our expertise and competitive skills. 

More time on being connected and collaborating and less time judging and competing. 

Like the pebble that makes concentric ripples in the water when thrown in, it is the emanating circles that reach the bank. Similarly, it is the people that are touched by our kindness and love spread and sustain these actions. 

This our path to eternity. 

Not in the actions we do or the jobs we hold, but in the people we touch. 

In our children. 

In our students. 

In our families. 

With the end in mind, then we may behave differently day-to-day. 

We may start to give others a break when they don’t behave as we wish. 

We may start to give ourselves a break when we treat others poorly or fail at a forgettable task. 

We may help each other step higher. 

We may see ourselves as emissaries of love and abundance. 

We may decide that one door closing always means another opens. 

We may trust that our lives unfold as they should. 

We may approach our life as the exciting adventure it is, versus a painful path placed in front of us to make reaching the artificial destinations we create more difficult. 

We may spend more time and energy being peaceful. Taking time for ourselves to appreciate our lives and really see what is important. 

Intellectually. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually. 

We may spend more time being and less time doing. 

We may be grateful for our many gifts while we still have them, instead of only longing for that which we have lost – health, family, time, opportunity. 

Because at the end of our lives, we often see our lives with more clarity. We often declutter a lot of our noise and focus on the precious signal that may be fading physically and socially. 

The stripped-down versions of ourselves begin to tune into our important set of principles and activities in ways that is difficult at other times of our lives. 

That is because most of us spend our lives building our resumes, not our eulogies. 

Starting with the end in mind may change this and may change us. 


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