Last week I attended a beautiful funeral service for a good friend’s father. The chapel was standing room only, the flowers, plants and photos of his family were abundant, but the space and décor paled in comparison to the words that were spoken during the 90-minute tribute. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to spend Memorial Day with this family and was well aware (after a competitive afternoon of washer toss, knockout and listening to funny family stories), of the kind of man he was simply by being a witness to the incredible family dynamics he and his wife of 58 years had created. So as much as I dread funeral services, I found myself looking around the packed chapel curious to know more about what kind of person would command such an unbelievable crowd. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
The memorial service began with a tribute by his business partner of 32 years and was followed by a moving speech from his older brother. But what was even more touching was that seven of his grandchildren got up in front of the crowd to speak, as did all five of his children. Their eulogies were personal, poignant and full of the specific life lessons he had imparted on each and every one of them. While their stories were all different, they shared a theme that couldn’t be missed. It was a theme of compassion, acceptance, and kindness to all o fthose he encountered; unbridled love and commitment to his family, and a strong work ethic (he was still happily working at age 78) where his business associates were treated as family.
So I ask myself – in your business and your professional life – does it really matter what awards you win? What titles you hold? What contracts you secure? The size of your paycheck or the year-end revenue you report? At the end of the day – or your day as the case may be – you won’t be remembered for these things. You will be remembered, as was this amazing man, by the friends you keep, the kindness you show, the quality of time you spend with friends and family and the legacy and lessons you leave your children and grandchildren. It really is that simple.