Late Saturday night, a national war hero, giant of the Senate, husband and father, departed from life. John McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, wrote a stunning tribute, one that any parent could only hope to receive from their child.
Meghan’s unfailing love and admiration for her father got me thinking about who we are to others – how we show up in the boardroom, the sales room and the living rooms in our life. I began to wonder would my own son speak such words of praise for me one day? What would my employees say? My customers? I immediately phoned one of my colleagues. I thanked her and apologized for the many times I didn’t fully do what I teach: Listen with my heart, ask questions about her personal goals and show gratitude for a job well done.
Think about the work you do, but more importantly think about who you are when you show up.
One thing I know for sure is we are not what we do.
As my friend Eric Chester says, “We’re human beings, not human doings.” Only when we change who we are, can we improve on what we do.
In his book The Road to Character, David Brooks discusses the difference between “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” Resume virtues, Brooks reminds us, are those skills you bring to the marketplace—qualities like drive, competition, and gregariousness. The eulogy virtues, on the other hand, are the ones people will talk about at your funeral. Were you kind? Honest? Empathetic? Loyal? Ask yourself this:
- What do you want your legacy to be?
- How do you want to be remembered?
- Do your actions line up with your values?
- Do you give up intimacy for the need to be right?
- Do you forgive others and will you forgive yourself?
Remember, no one is going to stand up at your funeral and say, “He had a really cool car,” or, “She has killer shoes.”
These are the virtues you need today to stand out above your competitors. If we perform a discovery without genuine curiosity, our customers will know it. If our coaching sessions are more about hitting quota than helping the individual, our employees will recoil from it.
The combination of character and skills are what you need to radiate inner confidence and outward success. “Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character,” writes Brooks.
This week practice your eulogy virtues. You know that we can practice cold calling, discovery questions or isolating objections. We can practice a sport, game or an instrument. But we can also practice, for example kindness, curiosity and gratitude. A daily practice of gratitude removes subconscious fears and turns us into grateful people. It allows us to look for what’s right in a person, to trust and to empathize.
But practicing anything in life requires the will to work. If not for yourself, do it for your children and your loved ones.
Says Meghan McCain, “I was with my father at the end, and he was with me at my beginning. In the 33 years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me and supported me in all things. He loved me, and I loved him. He taught me how to live. His love and his care ever present, always unfailing, took me from girl to a woman -and he showed me what it is to be a man…… he was a great fire who burned bright and we lived in his light and warmth for so very long- we know that his flame lives on in each of us.”
May we all burn bright and create a life worth living for our co-workers, our communities, ourselves and our loved ones.