I recently attended the funeral of a close relative where the pastor asked, “Are you building your resume or your eulogy?” As I reflected on those thoughts, my mind turned to the leadership journey we all are traveling as we define the “dash” on our tombstone—the time between birth and death. A resume is all about “me” while a eulogy, I believe, is what my life has meant to others.
Many of us define our lives and success by our careers, titles, board positions, influential people we have served beside, honors bestowed, etc. But what really matters is what people will say as they eulogize our lives. What we did, how we did it will be defined, measured, and ultimately valued—or not—by those who remain behind.
This does not need to be a sad, depressing message. In reality, it is meant to be a joyous homecoming made even more meaningful as people eulogize the special persons we were and how we (hopefully) touched many lives for good, NOT for self.
Bob Buford in his book, “Halftime,” states that as he headed into the second half of his life, he stopped setting goals and started to make commitments. He said: “I am committed to practice ‘altruistic egoism.’ Altruistic egoism means gaining personal satisfaction by helping others. It counts as greatest gain the goodwill of one’s neighbors.”
Are you leading in a way that is building your eulogy—serving others, building the goodwill of your team and “neighbors”—or are you still focused on building your resume and serving yourself? The choice is yours.
I will be eternally grateful to a fine father-in-law, John K. Miller—a man who lived his “dash” building a eulogy, not focusing on a resume.
Till we meet again, Dad, thank you for this most beautiful testimony!