“How I die is nowhere near as important as how I live.” — Misti Burmeister
Many years ago, Zig Ziglar asked me that very question. Well, maybe not in exactly those words, but close.
He asked me to write my own eulogy, which includes death. Or does it? In my opinion, the least important part of my eulogy is how I will die.
The more important question seems to be “how will I live?” What do I want people to say about me as I listen in (presumably from atop a fluffy cloud, just like in the movies) decades from now?
Back then, I had created a list of accomplishments I was proud of and that somehow meant I was special. More recently, as I’ve considered the same question, I’ve come to realize that it’s less about the specific accomplishments and more about the person I’m being every day.
This led me to ask myself, if this was my last moment, how do I want to leave the front desk staff feeling, the store clerk, the random guy I walk past in my building and with whom I happen to strike up a conversation, the woman I see in the mirror several times a day, the guy who just delivered a powerful speech, or the kid on the street who asks me to throw a football with him?
That’s when I questioned what it means when my answer to how I want to live is incongruent with what’s important to me. Am I really living, or am I just going through the motions?
If I’m simply going through the motions, what happens to all those with whom I come into contact? Are they inspired to be their best selves? Are they better off after our interaction?
Does any of this really matter? And why should I focus on “them” anyway?
The answer came to me recently during an exciting conversation with a complete stranger about the boxer shorts poking out of his pants.
“Nice boxers,” I said jokingly, as I motioned toward his waist line.
I know, I know… probably not the most appropriate way to address a stranger. Then again, neither is paddle boarding with a new business contact on the Potomac wearing a t-shirt and my underwear. But I digress.
My ridiculous comment disarmed and engaged Jeremy, provoking the most extraordinary conversation about his current employment and future aspirations. I stood in awe as he shared about his work as a technician and his dream of opening his own business.
As we finished our conversation, he thanked me for “bringing so much great energy into his day.” All I could think was how grateful I felt that he shared his dreams with me!
That’s when I realized that how I die is nowhere near as important as how I live. And I know how I’m living based on the outcomes I see right in front of me in each moment.
Perhaps it’s better to concern ourselves with how we’re living than how we’ll die.
Join the conversation: How do you know that you’re living life fully? What’s right in front of you each day?
Keeping it simple,
Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations, Hidden Heroes and Power Suck.