A Life Worth Remembering
What does it mean to live the good life? Living your life consistent with what it is that you want to be remembered for may be the best answer I know to that question. Last week, the world lost an extraordinary man – Colin Powell – a statesman, diplomat, and four-star general. Powell served as the first African American U.S. Secretary of State, in addition to U.S. National Security Advisor and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Some will remember him mostly for his role in making the case for the Iraq invasion in 2003, an episode that Powell himself admits was a “blot” on an otherwise unblemished record. But thankfully most will celebrate his exceptional character and service. After reading several obituaries and accounts of Powell’s life, I realized there was little I could add to what had already been written. Instead of writing about Colin Powell, I began to focus on a central question arising from his death – what would I want to be remembered for? It didn't take me long to find an answer to that question. To put it simply, it is that I have fully loved and been loved. If that is all that is said about me, I will be at peace knowing that I have lived a full life. In truth, I have been living with the answer to this question for some time. It has emerged as the north star that guides my entire life – allowing me to forgive those who I believe wronged me, enabling me to appreciate and love myself, and transforming my relationships with my friends, colleagues, and family. I'm still a work in progress, and perhaps I always will be. But each day my actions shift in ways that get me closer to living my life consistent with exactly how I want to be remembered. And that brings me tremendous peace and joy. Over 2,000 years ago, the Greeks asked the question – what does it mean to live the good life? Living your life consistent with what it is that you want to be remembered for may be the best answer I know to that question. My sense is that Colin Powell knew what he wanted to be remembered for and died knowing that he lived his life accordingly. Tuesday Tips
As a student of leadership, I particularly enjoyed Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff’s article “What I Learned from Colin Powell.”
This article from last year in The Atlantic, “The System that Actually Worked,” reminded me of the importance of the built-in redundancy and multiple pathways of the internet’s network design and the lessons it offers for how we design our own organizations and lives.
Here’s another article from The Atlantic, “Stop Shopping,” that makes a compelling case for moderating our consumerism. It’s a balanced and timely piece worth reading.