- Life and Executive Coach Training and Certification
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I once went to a funeral that I will never forget.
Even though it happened over a decade ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a 23-year old ordained minister, and before getting into my current career as a leadership and executive coach, I spent 12 years as a full-time pastor. I was used to conducting funeral services packed full, often with hundreds in attendance. These funerals became celebrations of the life and contributions of the one who had passed. Though there was sadness, there was also gratitude for the life lived, and its contributions.
I will never forget one of them. I was called by one of our local funeral homes to conduct a service for an older gentleman who had passed away. Because I did not know him, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I arrived I was shocked to see an open casket, with just one mourner in attendance. I checked my watch and made sure I wasn’t early. Actually, I was five minutes late. I waited 10 minutes to see if anyone else would arrive. At 11:15 a.m., fully 15 minutes after the funeral was supposed to begin, there was one mourner, an open casket, and myself present to celebrate and remember a life of more than 70 years.
I went through the motions of the funeral service, but I was forever shaken. I couldn’t imagine living 70 years, and connecting with so few people that there would be only one attendee at my funeral. That event shook me to my core, and I resolved that I wanted to build a life that was full of life, full of love, and making a difference.
Maya Angelou understood this when she said that, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.”
See, true kindness is loving people with abundance and authenticity. When we treat each moment as precious and valuable, and each interaction with another person as unique and distinctive, we are fully living and authentically loving. When we do that, we attract quality people to ourselves. Connecting with people on a surface-level leads to surface-level living, and surface level loving, and surface-level results.
Part of this is determining to leave a positive footprint on the world. This sort of determination causes us to act like what we do makes a difference, because in reality, it actually does! The meaning of life is to find your gift, and yet the purpose of life is to give it away. Heart-centred and successful people make a difference in the people around them, and are remembered and celebrated.
In the end, this is how I believe we will be evaluated: Was I a giver, and not just a taker? Was I person who plants, and not just someone who harvests? Did I seek to serve, and not just to be served? Was gratitude my steady response, or entitlement? And in the end, did my giving and planting and thanking and serving actually do anything that will last beyond this moment? Let’s live in this moment, but aim for an impact beyond just this moment.
Since that moment, over a decade ago, I have not lived a perfect life. Far from it. But for me, it’s been pretty simple. Live fully. Love authentically. Serve gratefully. Lead effectively, with or without a title. And, make a difference. I coach my clients to do the same.
The funeral I will never forget, more than anything, was a reminder to me that this moment matters. Today matters. Tomorrow matters.
And if this moment matters, then I matter. You matter. And when we live like we matter, our impact grows, and our reach expands. Lives are healed, transformed, and empowered. We got this. Let’s go do it!
Live fully. Love authentically. Serve gratefully. Lead effectively. And, make a difference, every day.
The Bible. It changed my life, and continues to change it every day. Also, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (Free Press, 1989). People only change when their habits change.