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Here’s a Wacky Exercise: Try Writing Your Own Eulogy

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.

Helpful? Definitely.

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.

Here’s mine:

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.)

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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