The death of Steve Jobs today caused me to ask a question that I ask whenever I’m faced with death, and that is: “What will I be remembered for?” My Twitter home feed lit up immediately following Steve Jobs passing with hundreds of different iterations of how people will remember him and all of the tweets spoke of him honorably, respectfully and with admiration for all he accomplished and for the man he was.
I’m not afraid to share I have an actual written “bucket list” (aka – list of things I want to do before I die). In a recent conversation with Norm, a very good friend and mentor of mine, he challenged me to put aside the list of things I wanted to do, and rather build a vision of what I wanted to become. That concept spoke volumes to me.
When your time is up, how do you want people to remember you? Although I don’t have it clearly defined myself, I know I don’t want to go out quietly. I want to give 110% right up until my very last day and have people remember me for what I contributed and the difference I made over my lifetime. I want to be known as someone who was true to my beliefs and not afraid to go against the grain, and who reinvented myself whenever it was necessary to remain relevant and on top of my game. I want to be remembered as a person who was trusted, displayed integrity and was committed to the cause (whatever that cause may be).
Even though I haven’t defined exactly how I want to be remembered, I know I need to always be on the journey of becoming that person. Every day is a new beginning and for some, it’s also an ending. If these were your last months, how would you live your life? And for that matter, how do you know they aren’t?
Tonight I remember a man who is not just recognized for all he invented and innovated, but truly for the person he became in the process.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart…
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
– Steve Jobs, 2005