In Greatest Year Ever 2019, we kicked the party off by reminding ourselves of the ultimate game we’re playing—leaning into Aristotle’s wisdom (yet again!) that the summum bonum of life (the highest good!) is to experience the joy of flourishing by having a great relationship with our inner soul.
Then we took a quick trip to hell. (Hah.)
We’re going to make that trip again Today. But, first, a little more context.
In one of the best-selling self-help books of all time (enter: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Stephen Covey tells us we need to “Begin with the End in Mind.”
(That happens to be Habit #2—it comes right after Habit #1 which tells us we need to “Be Proactive.” In other words, first we need to quit spending all of our time reacting to things outside of our control (and complaining about things not going the way we want) and start taking control of our lives, proactively creating the world we want to live in.)
One of Covey’s most powerful exercises to get clarity on what to do with our lives (and become a “highly effective” person) is to begin with the ULTIMATE end in mind. He has us fast-forward to the end of our lives and attend our own funerals.
Here’s a quick retake on what I call “The Eulogy Exercise” (which I actually used in my very first coaching session with my very first coaching client nearly 20 years ago):
You walk into a funeral, look around and realize it’s YOUR funeral. (Yikes!)
You take a seat and look around at all the people there to celebrate you and your life. (Imagine that for a moment if you feel so inspired.)
Then you listen to some eulogies.
The exercise: Who says what? What does your spouse or significant other say? Your kids? Your friends? Your colleagues? Random people you may have helped at some point in your life?
Think about that. Write it down.
What qualities do they mention? What VIRTUES do you want to remembered for? Your kindness? Your presence? Your generosity? Your courage? Your ability to inspire others? Your creativity? Your commitment? What is it for you?
Get clear. And start living in integrity with those virtues NOW.
And KNOW THIS: Living in integrity with those values you say are important to you is pretty much the key to your well-being in the most ultimate sense.
(Which, of course, is (echo!) PRECISELY what Aristotle said 2,500 years ago and what positive psychologists founded their whole movement on 20 years ago.)
For now, let’s go back to your funeral.
And imagine this: You’re sitting there listening to the eulogies when the doors behind you open and someone walks in.
You turn around to see who’s there.
You squint your eyes as you take them in. They look oddly familiar.
They have a radiance and a confidence and a grounded power that’s palpable.
Then it hits you.
That astonishingly radiantly alive person is YOU.
Well, technically, it’s who you COULD have become if you actually lived in integrity with what you knew was true.
Some would say that meeting the version of you that you could have become is one version of HELL.
(What do you think?)
Here’s another slight tweak on the same exercise. It’s your last day here on Earth. You’re about to take your last breath when that same epically radiant version of you walks in the door. The fully-actualized version of you that you DIDN’T become.
How’s that feel to realize that you kinda sorta pretty much wasted this one, precious life you were given?
Again, some would say that that’s HELL.
Tomorrow we’re going to take a trip to Michelangelo’s studio and get to work carving our Masterpiece selves but for now…
Newsflash: We don’t want to experience that hell (any more than we already have).
Picture that awesome version of you.
What’s ONE thing they do consistently that the current version of you doesn’t do consistently YET?
Today a good day to get on that?