I’ve been a church-goer since 24 years ago, and some of the most important services I’ve ever attended are the ones where someone I know (or family member of a dear friend) died.
To be honest, I’m not fond of going to wake services or funerals, but they somehow have an undeniable impact on me. Hearing what others say about the deceased never fail to give me a sober reminder that I don’t live forever, and life is never too long to do something significant and meaningful.
Just over a week ago, my nation lost a very prominent political leader and senior lawyer, Karpal Singh. In the days that followed, hundreds of tributes were poured to this great man all over the Internet and other media. Likewise, there were great tributes for famous people who died in recent times like Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Paul Walker and Tom Clancy, to name but a few.
At around the same time, I was reading a personal development book on the part about helping people to discover the meaning of their lives. And one of the exercises is called ‘The Tribute’. I thought it’s good to share here and I’m modifying it for the purpose of self-coaching, a meaningful exercise you can easily walk through for yourself.
‘Your Tribute’ Exercise
Get to a quiet place where you can be by yourself uninterrupted for a couple of hours. Make yourself comfortable, relax and breathe deeply to clear your mind. Get a pen and some papers (or your journal) ready for this exercise.
Imagine that you have passed on from this world at a ripe old age – your life is over. Your favorite newspaper or magazine is compiling a special edition as a tribute, to honor you, your life, accomplishments and contributions. This special edition includes articles and interviews of your family, close friends, colleagues, people you have worked with and others whose lives you’ve touched in one way or another.
Your tribute represents what you would most like to be said of you, not what you imagine people might actually say. Ask yourself the following questions and record your answers:
- What are the Top 5 things written about you?
- Who are the contributors to this special edition and what does each of them say?
- What impact did you have on them?
- What are your biggest accomplishments that the special edition celebrate?
- What are your biggest contributions that the special edition remember and honor you for?
- What is your legacy that you left behind (to those you love, your work, your community and other communities you’ve impacted, and globally)?
- What other memorable events do the people recount of you?
- What kind of character and human being do people say of you?
‘Your Tribute’ exercise is meant to help you discover what is meaningful to you in your life, work and beyond.
Face Your Truth
So what did you learn? What are the causes (bigger than you) that’s worth fighting for? What is the biggest or most significant work that you can be proud of? What do you want to leave behind? How do you want to be remembered by? At the end of the day what truly matters? How will you love?I want to live like I know what I'm leaving. ~ Switchfoot Click To Tweet
A couple of years ago, a dear friend of mine had a health scare upon receving news that she had a terminal disease. Her announcement shocked me and also gave me a wake up call. She said she wasn’t ready and had not been living the life that she wanted. I remember clearly, “What if it was me?”
Thank God that the health scare was just that….a scare, nothing more. But one of the biggest questions I faced and wrestled with was this, “What truth(s) have I not tell?”
I determined at that point in time that I would live in such a way that I would not be afraid to speak the truth, not mince my words when it matters, even if it may offend people.
I realized that it may be too late to say the things that we really want to say, if we don’t say it at the right time. Karpal Singh was bold man who wasn’t afraid speak his mind most of the time, and he has gotten a lot of stick for that over the years. But see what impact he had made in the time he was given.
What about you?