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Obituaries remind us to think about the legacy we’re creating

Obituaries not only capture the essence of a person's life, but they can also offer questions of self-reflection for ourselves.

2 min read



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As anyone who has read my columns over the years knows, I am deeply indebted to obituary writers.

I like drawing nuggets that illustrate aspects of the human condition and serve as role models — or sometimes caution lights — to the rest of us.

Our lives, if we are lucky, are a long string of hits and some misses that are woven across a lifetime of living, interacting with spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends and colleagues.

At a certain point, you feel you have lived awhile but when you read an obituary, you see that you can sum up a life pretty quickly in 500 to 1,000 words.

Even a long obituary cannot capture the entirety of a person’s life. Nor should it. What you are going for is the essence of a person. What did she do? How did she do it? How did she overcome obstacles? And what to people think of her then and now?

Such questions might serves as notes of reflection for all of us. Thinking about our end is really thinking about our legacy. We will be remembered by those whose lives we touched.

John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2018, Trust Across America honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Trust. Also in 2018, named Baldoni a Top 100 Leadership Speaker. Global Gurus ranked him No. 22 on its list of top 30 global experts, a list he has been on since 2007. In 2014, named Baldoni to its list of top 50 leadership experts. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

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