Why your eulogy is more important than your resume

Often my work as a coach helps people with specific parts of their resume or career trajectory. We talk about what they can do to hone a particular attribute or craft a specific path to get where they want to, in order to meet their longer term goals..

But, it’s often taking a rather different approach which has a much more profound impact on someone’s leadership style or legacy.

In fact, the last chapter of my book is titled Your Legacy and is all about thinking about what you want to have been known for:

What would you want people to  be saying about you on hearing of your resignation? How will your team, peers, colleagues and customers be talking about you in years to come. What language will they use? Will they talk about you with affection or with anger? What anecdotes will they quote to sum you up?

There has been a lot of talk this week about the death of journalist and writer Sam de Brito. This article by Rebecca Sparrow summed up that talk in her article:

“..De Brito was a gifted writer – no question. And yet the talk this week after the news of his death hasn’t been about his journalistic legacy as formidable as that is nor his success as a novelist. Every article I’ve read this past week has been about how Sam de Brito was the kind of bloke who did the right thing. Who cared. Who listened. Who championed the success of his friends and mentored the careers of others. Who stuck his neck out to defend his tribe. It was about the all encompassing love and devotion he had for his daughter, Anoushka. It was about how he used his profile and platform to shine a spotlight on causes close to his heart like animal welfare.

And honestly, it stopped me in my tracks.

It’s not as if I haven’t read tributes before. Well-known and well-loved people pass away every day. But there was something that grabbed me by the shoulders yesterday about Sam de Brito and the way he was continually described by those who knew him.

Kind. Brave. Honest. Faithful. He lived those eulogy virtues.

And I cannot think of a better legacy to leave. Because at the end of our lives –whenever that day comes – isn’t this how we all want to be remembered? Sam de Brito – despite his demons and screw-ups – was a force for good.

And today as clichéd and possibly ridiculous as this sounds – that larrikin Sydney journo reminded me to live better. To try harder to be a decent human being..”

Touche!

Sometimes we get so caught up in the theory of being a better leader, or getting to our next promotion, or whatever, that we forget to just be a decent human being.

So, the only takeaway for this week is to think about your eulogy and your funeral. What will they be saying about you? And is it what you want to be known for? It is what you want people to say? If not, do something about it before it is too late to do something about it. For life is long but it can also be painfully short.

Until next week, happy leading.

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Tammy Tansley
I am a coffee loving, energetic human who loves words, bright colours and spots, silly t'shirts and good champagne. Mum to two beautiful mischiefs. Long time wanderer around the world. Author. Blogger. Speaker.
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