How often do you think about your own mortality?
I once wrote a lyric about death, that it’s “the greatest adventure of all we’ll have.” Of course I have no idea of whether or not that’s true, but what I do know is that whenever my time comes, I will have had an incredible journey here on Earth. My Uncle Willie was a pastor and a community leader during his time, and there was this one exercise he really loved to introduce across leadership teams, something he really enjoyed from his time in school I suppose. Some of you reading have probably already guessed what it is, lol, it’s The Obituary Exercise!
OMG, if you just completed the exercise before reading the next paragraph, I’m so proud of you. It’s a pretty big deal. If you’re still here (i.e. you did not click on the link), I would like to thank you for your loyalty, and I hope you can check out the exercise from Stanford University linked above at a later time. Honestly, the thought of what will be written about you and your life once this part of the journey is done is pretty intense. For some of us, it reaffirms our previously articulated goals and objectives, and for others, it’s more of a wake up call to actually get the fuck up and do something with this side of life’s journey.
Another element to these often-weighted thoughts of mortality, is that too many of us never actually express the true thoughts of our minds and our hearts. During the year 2018, I promised myself I would be confident in speaking about what I’m really feeling. I promised I would be vulnerable with others in honestly sharing the things I felt and thought. An important note to make here is that the focus is transparency and understanding, not reckless abandon. Effectively communicating how you feel with yourself and others you can trust is vital to the build of your success and strength as an individual, in relationships, and as a leader of any kind in this world.
For me, vulnerability is highly valued in every relationship. It is a foundational requirement for anyone I consider a friend. In business, I consider people who are incapable or unwilling of being vulnerable as also being incapable or unwilling when it comes to building anything worth anyone’s time or money. Vulnerability is a special quality that inherently indicates a grant of trust, even when it may sometimes feel unwarranted or unearned. The key to accessing this type of constructive vulnerability lies in the exploration of the truth of who we are. It certainly isn’t easy, but then again, what worthwhile life task ever is (besides eating, sleeping, and breathing I guess)?
Thinking about your mortality while you still have time is a powerful thing. It allows you to really put things in perspective. And I’m not talking about about the “oh wow, that could’ve been me,” or “woah, that tragedy really hit close to home.” I’m talking about a real consideration for who you are, and what you’ve set out to accomplish. What is your purpose? Is what you’re doing right now aligned with your personal mission/vision? If you don’t know you purpose yet, that is okay, because I literally have the perfect recommendation for you. It’s called The Influence Workbook. Written by critically acclaimed published author, speaker, and coach, Elliot Carlyle, The Influence Workbook will guide you through all the right steps to getting in touch with who you are and why you are here. Once you have this book and have started reading it, you can join this secret Facebook group where the author personally interacts with and supports readers who are working through the workbook for themselves.
If I die, I want people to remain lifted in the memory of their experience of who they’ve known me to be. And if for any reason, they feel anything less than admiration for me, I hope they find a way to be free. I hope part of my impact has been that people such as yourself might be inspired to truly love yourself and others. That you will put into words, the truth of what you feel, think and believe. As I bring this to a close, I want to share with you the song that inspired me to write this article about my current perspective on death and thoughts of mortality, If I Die by Jade Bird. At just under four minutes, I really hope you’ll take the time now to really listen and experience the fullness of this honest and soulful ballad.