The Three-Inch Limit

Last weekend, I spent a fair amount of time unpacking boxes that have been taking-up space and collecting dust in my basement for (I don’t even want to admit how many) years. While I’m committed to eliminating the expense of moving them yet again, I’ve also become increasingly curious as to the hidden treasures inside each and every one of those boxes. (Approaching this project as a bit of a treasure hunt made it a bit more palpable.)

The experience was akin to a roller-coaster ride, to be sure. And while I could go on and on about the many things I discovered in the myriad of boxes I opened, what seems to have stuck with me most is a brief tribute I read about my mother, an article that was written in her company newsletter shortly after her tragic and untimely death at the age of 43.

In that limited column space, the writer beautifully wrote about who she was and how she managed to touch so many lives in her short time here. “It is usually difficult to summarize a person’s life in one word, but in this case it is indeed simple: compassionate.”

(By the way, the writer got it right.)

As this newsletter article has stuck in my mind all week, so too has the idea of having my life summarized in a single word. What word would “my” writer choose? How about yours?

If you want to tighten-up your life and create the legacy you want to leave behind, there’s no quicker way than to write your own obituary and limit it to the three inches the newspaper gives you. And then ask yourself if the life that you’re living and the person you’re being reflects what you just wrote.

Make a habit of taking the time to look at your life and measuring the extent to which it speaks the legacy of your choosing.

Many, many years from now, someone in your life might be sifting through a pile of boxes and reading about who you were and what kind of life you lived. Make your life worthy of a great read, one that touches and inspires others – and moves them to create an extraordinary legacy too. (Thanks, mom.)