The Epitaph

Listening to Dr. David Jeremiah on a recent Turning Point Podcast, he shared his admittedly morbid fascination with epitaphs. It’s interesting to see the story that lies behind the dash on that stone – kind of speaks a lot about a person, in terms of how people are really remembered. On a light note, Dr. Jeremiah spoke of one in particular – Les Moore.  His epitaph read, “Here lies Les Moore: No Les, No Moore.” No way!

I hope that comes out at least half as funny on paper as it did on audio! I kept repeating it out loud…No Les, No Moore…still funny. But sad.

It begs the point: What would we want our dash to mean? 

Because, after all, we’re living it out now, only to have it fleshed out in how people remember us. Kind of impresses how much the present really matters in terms of the difference we make, which is generally how we’re remembered.

In Covey’s famous 7 Habits, Habit 2 is “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s all about mission thinking – How do we live now to establish clearly how we want to be remembered? Here are a few questions that might get you into mission thinking mode:
  1. Think of a person who has made a positive influence in your life.  What qualities does that person have that you would like to develop?
  2. What are your natural talents and gifts?
  3. Imagine it is 20 years from now and you are surrounded by the most important people in your life.  Who are they and what are you doing?
  4. What are the things in your personal life that make life worth living?
  5. What are the things in your work life that make life worth living?
  6. What are the five things that you value most?
Mission thinking is a present day approach to our future epitaph.

For Les, I sure hope there is more!

The Hot Coals Principle

Nothing like a steaming, hot and juicy burger grilling above those hot coals! I’m writing this during a dreary January day, high 30s and rainy. Nice.

So let’s get back to the grilling!

Can you picture the hibachi? The coals are piled high, building intense heat, starting white, then getting red hot.  The burgers are placed on the rack and the sizzlin’ begins! Burgers done just right! Wow! I’m getting hungry.

Did you ever see one of those red hot coals roll away from the pile? If you leave it there, you know what happens? Without its highly influential team, it starts to cool off, adapting to its new environment. And quickly.

That’s you and me!   We’re constantly adapting to the environment around us, or if we’re particularly stubborn and steadfast, we may be trying to influence our environment to be more like us. Either way – whether you’re the thermometer or thermostat, it’s challenging staying on fire.

The best plan is to choose the environment you want, find where it is, get there fast and stay there!

Do you want to be motivated? Get around motivating people.

Do you want to be strong? Get around strong people.

Do you want to be smiling, laughing and having fun? Get around smiling, laughing, fun people.

You’ll find these hot coals people everywhere. Some are around you or close by. Some you’ll have to find and befriend. Some are in books. Some are in music and movies and Podcasts. You get the idea – they’re there if you look around.

It’s simple: if you’re cold, time to get around the heat – time to live and enjoy the hot coals principle.


Have you seen that famous photograph of Jean Guichard’s where a giant wave looks like it’s about to engulf a lighthouse? 

In the photo, Jean catches a uniquely timed image of the lighthouse keeper, Théodore Malgorne, seemingly stepping out for some fresh air. Actually he was not. He was awaiting a rescue from the life-threatening storm in 1989.  He and his colleagues had to take refuge in the lighthouse tower after waves the night before had smashed through the lower windows of the tower, causing the structure to flood and washing away everything in its path, including the television, table, chairs, coffeemaker and even the refrigerator.  When Théodore heard the helicopter, he stepped out, anticipating rescue. But it was Jean Guichard there to snap the timely shot just before another massive wave hit. The keeper made it inside just in time, the lighthouse held, and Jean Guichard got his award winning photograph.

Thankfully the rescuers did arrive and everyone was brought to safety.  I don’t know what eventually happened to the lighthouse, though my guess is that it is still there, like many others, holding true to their place against nature’s fury.  Some give, but most don’t. And that might make a good metaphor for our time management philosophy moving forward.

Imagine that level of steadfastness applied to our plans, strategies and priorities– plans for our business or career, our health, our relationships, our finances.  You’ve heard it before, “plan your work and work your plan”.  It’s the “working your plan” that gets most of us. We plan to; we intend to; we sometimes even want to – but the waves get in the way.  Some are self-inflicted waves and others are not.  Either way, they’re waves and they’ll destroy our plans, unless we hold firm like that lighthouse did.  

What do you have planned this year? What priorities need your undivided attention? What strategic elements of your life and work are being neglected?

Let’s make our plans, with purpose and vision in mind; then protect those plans much like the lighthouse did for the Keepers amidst the nasty storm.  Imagine what we’ll get done. Imagine our progress. Imagine our sense of confidence and fulfillment – actually doing exactly what we said we’d do.

Be the lighthouse. Be steadfast in your plans. That’s personal integrity. And that’s worth it.

Chicken or Pig

A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor's office.

After his checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office alone. He said, "Your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. If you don't follow my instructions carefully, your husband will surely die.

"Each morning, fix him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant at all times. For lunch make him a nutritious meal. For dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him.”

"Don't burden him with chores. Don't discuss your problems with him; it will only make his stress worse. Do not nag him. Most importantly, make love to him regularly.”

"If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year, I think your husband will regain his health completely."

On the way home, the husband asked his wife, "What did the doctor say?"

"He said you're going to die."

So much for commitment.  At least she was honest. Right?

But what if you are committed…that committed?

Think about it this way, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed! At least in terms of a ham and eggs breakfast. 

What can you achieve with commitment?   Commitment to your workout plans, your nutrition goals, your sales numbers, your marriage vows, your reading plan, and even those commitments you have yet to make, but know you should.

You can do what the wife did – don’t commit and simply be honest about the outcome.

Or you can commit fully. You can be the pig. 

A Walk To The Elevator

Many years ago, at the height of my sales career, I remember witnessing a classic and devastating sales mistake.  And if you’re in sales, you’ve likely made this mistake as well.  Maybe you still do.

I was with my Sales Manager on an appointment with a very strong prospect. A prospect is one who has shown qualified interest in your product or service, and this guy was definitely that.  There we were, engaging in a good discussion, discussing how we were going to provide effective solutions and the excellent partnership we would make. We left the prospect’s office having had a good, solid, solutions-focused discussion and with strong rapport established.  This contract would have been by far my largest single client, likely doubling my annual sales revenue. 

As we walked to the elevator, my Sales Manager basically congratulated me on this tremendous success. We got it! It’s a done deal!  Those were not the exact words, but they might as well have been. I was not so convinced. My thought…before speaking it as a public success, I need the proverbial money in the bank. 

My trepidation was dead-on, as the commitment never came to be. He walked out with “happy ears” – hearing what he wanted, not necessarily what was said, or in this case not said. Here is what was not said: “You have the contract.”

Ultimately I’ve become much more cautious in my optimism.  I guess that might mean I’m more realistically optimistic. I need proof of my confidence when it comes to something beyond my control. 

Too many people, sales for sure, figuratively spend what has not yet been granted.  When it comes to your future, are you projecting with your heart or your mind? I suggest if you go with your heart, at least back it up with your mind.

That level of realistic optimism will keep you honest.