Thursday, September 11, 2014

What Will Matter

Leading means choosing
I'm getting to know a work team stewing in self-imposed pain. Symptoms? Back-biting, blame, resentment. Emotionally-toxic sludge abounds. As I hear each individual describe what's going on--and how angry and depressed they are that others aren't changing--I'm struck by the hellish waste of human energy. And of course I reflect on the times I've let myself go down that path as well: blaming, triangulating, nursing perceived injuries. Pulling back vs working at understanding. It's common; it's short-term comfort; it's human. And there's another choice. Leadership demands another choice.

In preparing my office for a move, I'm reading files not seen for a while. This lovely piece is from my hospice training, and it caught my eye as I'm pondering the needs of this team struggling with making better choices on how to show up with each other.

What Will Matter

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. 
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. 
It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;
not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice 
that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, 
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

--Michael Josephson

As is true of life, how we are at work matters. Our choices matter.

Rebecca Perry is a seasoned team consultant, leadership coach, seminar facilitator, mediator, and retreat planner. Since 1990 she has been coaching, consulting and facilitating for clients in a wide variety of industries and at all levels of management. Check out her website at