Several years ago there was a top performing real estate agent that spoke at one of our meetings. She highly recommended everyone read Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I went out and purchased it. Shortly into reading the book it was recommended you write down what success would look like to you. I rarely actually stop when a book or CD tells you to stop and write something down, but this time I did. I was in my 30’s and my mind was on business or career mode. I think I had something about keeping God the center of my life and maybe something about a healthy lifestyle, but mostly what I had down were things I felt would make me feel successful in business. Then you continue reading and it talks about walking into a funeral and all the emotions that go with that. You then realize you are at your own funeral. Now think about what you would want your immediate family to say about you. What would you want a co-worker, close friend and someone from your church to say about you at your funeral? Look back at your list and see if you want to change anything about what success looks like to you. I went back and changed two thirds of what I had written down. The premise is to “begin with the end in mind”. It was a great realization for me that what is important to me, what I value doesn’t change rather I am at home, at work or at church.
It made me think of the poem I had read a few years ago…
The Dash, by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears.
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still rearranged
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
I do pray I keep God first in all I do, but I know I fail daily in one way or another. I try to never take for granted the time I get to spend with others, because I do truly value that. Recently Nancy Reagan passed away and they ask her son what do you want people to remember most about your mom. He said “that she knew how to love”. John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
What a legacy, if when people think of how we spent our dash, love is one of the first things that comes to mind!