Last week, I was in Berkeley, California writing my own eulogy. Yep. I know. A bit premature. I’m not planning on using it for many, many years to come.
I was attending True University 2017, a series of workshops put on by True Ventures for their portfolio companies. The last day consisted of a leadership intensive, which is where I found myself sitting in a room surrounded by 100 strangers writing out what I hoped my wife would say at my funeral.
A tad bit morbid? Sure.
Fun? Not exactly.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how we got to the eulogy piece, where I see this benefiting me down the road, and how you can complete a version of the exercise. It won’t take longer than 10 minutes in total. Promise.
Step #1 – Character
The exercise started out harmless enough. We listed out the top character traits we hoped to exemplify through our actions. I listed things like positive, passionate, and dependable.
Take two minutes and do the same.
Step #2 – Eulogy
Here comes the big challenge: “Keeping those character traits in mind, write your own eulogy. Don’t hold back. Make this the most over-the-top eulogy you can think of. Assume you’ve accomplished your wildest dreams. What would your loved one say?”
Admission: I found this exercise pretty easy. I’m not sure what that says about me.
My pen started going immediately, and I had no trouble coming up with exactly what I hoped my wife would say at my funeral. It’s pretty long so I won’t share it here, but it was divided into three sections.
- Family and friends – First, I hope I’m remembered as a loving husband/father and loyal friend.
- Mentor – I love helping others succeed. I’ll be remembered as someone who made a difference in the lives of others.
- Philanthropy – Generous with time, knowledge, and money.
Set aside five minutes for this one. Take a bit of time but don’t stress too much about getting it perfect.
Step #3 – Purpose
At this point, we have a list of ideal character traits and a eulogy from our loved one. The last step is to turn this into a purpose statement.
Combining both step 1 and 2, what’s your personal mission? How do you tie everything into a few sentences that will hold you accountable? I view it as a compass of sorts, something you can reference to know if you’re on the right track.
I will have a positive impact on everyone I encounter balancing love, positivity, and passion. I’ll be driven by curiosity about the world focused on learning, teaching, and creating opportunities for others.
Why is this helpful?
A (very) large piece of me didn’t want to share this purpose statement with anyone. It’s super personal and typing it out feels a bit cheesy.
After reflecting back on the exercise though, I’ve referenced my personal mission statement a handful of times over the last few weeks. It’s a north star, an action checker. Whenever I’m frustrated or responding negatively to a situation, I can refer to those two sentences and ask myself:
“Am I acting inline with that statement?”
Short, simple, and powerful.
Rest assured you can keep your personal mission statement to yourself. If you would like to share it with someone though, I’d love to hear it. Send it to jeremeylduvall – gmail.
(Hat tip to Hylke Faber over at Constancee for running this exercise at the Leadership Intensive.)