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Reflections on a funeral for a friend and some life priorities

Within the maelstrom of meetings, emails and too much to do I attended a funeral for a friend last week, more a Thanksgiving really but still very sad.

Nothing newsworthy there, you have probably been to a few funerals too. What makes this so impactful for me is that it was the life of a 29 year old we were celebrating and giving thanks for.

29, that’s tough. A child’s death is devastating, there being so much anticipated potential; an elderly death is almost acceptable and can be a sweet relief. But a 29 year old man, full of vigour and energy – a life that has already deeply impacted so many people in so many ways. Potential already formed, honed and realised with more promise to come, that’s tough.

My friend, David, spoke eloquently about how it is not the length of a life that matters, but the depth and resonance of it that matters. He reminded us of that great Maximus Decimus Meridius line in Gladiator, ‘What we do in life, echoes in eternity’. And this got me thinking…..

Now, this may surprise you but, as someone who specialises in the purpose, strategy, time and priority management training space I have never been a big fan of the ‘Tombstone Test’ (An exercise where you write your own eulogy). Yes, I have done it and yes, I do sometimes run the exercise in training events BUT it can lull us into a false sense of security that we have time to make some changes. It can allow us to ‘think about it’ or, more realistically, avoid or procrastinate about doing something about it. I’m more of a ‘Carpe Diem’ guy myself (although some days I do fail miserably in getting a grip on anything!).

It seems to me that all we have to do is decide what is best to do with the time that is given to us. So here’s 5 things we can do right now

  1. Get to know the purpose and point of our lives, our careers or businesses, our current roles and responsibilities and the decisions we make right now about what to do next and why.
  2. Work well on building, developing and nurturing relationships. Remember that in business having deep and enduring relationships can go hand-in-hand with commercial acuity.
  3. Sell with integrity. The right offering on the right terms trumps short-termism always. It is good for the customer, good for the business, good for the relationship and possibly good for society too.
  4. In negotiations always allow the other party to have some dignity, pride and skin in the eventual outcome.
  5. When it comes to the customer getting what they paid for, treat the SLA (Service Level Agreement) as the minimum service standard to be delivered, not the maximum attainable at a stretch after allowances for escalations and excuses along the way

Well, that’s it for now. Rest in peace Paul and thank you David.

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