Truth Bomb Tuesday: If your motivation is a eulogy, you’ll never get far.
“After you die, how do you want to be remembered?”
I was filling out some interview questions for a glossy magazine a while ago. They were doing a special on ‘Women in Business’ and they were giving me a run.
The questions were all pretty straight forward. ‘What gets you out of the bed in the morning?’ ‘Who’s been the biggest influence on your life?’ ‘What are you reading right now?’ I’d seen it all before.
But then I got to Question 14: How do you want to be remembered?
I baulked. I wasn’t sure how to answer it.
I took a break. Grabbed a cuppa, and mulled it over.
Then I came back and wrote:
“I would like to be remembered as a supermodel race car driver who invented a cure for cancer and a number of fabulous cheesecake recipes.”
Turns out, that’s not an appropriate answer.
I showed it to a few people around the office, and there was pretty much a consensus that this wasn’t the best possible answer.
“But it’s asking me how I want to be remembered. It’s a creative exercise.”
“But you’re not…”
I shot him a look. If he was about to question my looks or my driving skills, there’d be trouble.
“You’re not, um, someone who’s invented a cure for cancer.”
Ok, I’m stirring for my own amusement. But there was just something in this question that didn’t sit right. How do you want to be remembered?
It sounds like a vanity exercise to me. How do you want people to think when they think of you?
And we seem to be getting more and more obsessed with our image. I guess that’s what happens when the marginal cost of a photo is effectively nothing. There’s nothing to stop people spending hours getting just the right ‘selfie’.
We used to worry about what our clothes said about us. What story are these shoes telling? Adventurous go-getter? Nursing home attendant?
But technology has unlocked our capacity to stress about our image, and there’s no putting Godzilla back in the cage now. Carefully crafted versions of self extend into every website that asks you to present a ‘profile’.
I need a care-free and happy selfie for Facebook, a more earnest and diligent selfie for LinkedIn.
But I’ve had to work hard at not giving a toss what people think about me. How do I want people to think about me? I don’t care. People can think whatever they want to think. That’s their story.
Everyone has to come to terms with this sooner or later in this journey. In some ways, I’ve just copped an extreme version of it. When you get up on a stage and put yourself out there, some of the stuff that comes back at you can be pretty ugly… or stupid.
Sometimes I swear I feel like I’ve got a sign that says, ‘Please give me fashion advice’ on my forehead. Really? I’m telling you how to structure your finances so as to achieve maximum asset protection, and you’re worried about the colour of my jacket? Seriously?
All the flippin time.
And I guess people get challenged – in their fears, insecurities or view of the world. And when you’re putting yourself out there – when you’re your own brand – then people seem to feel entitled to have a go at you to make themselves feel better.
But a lot of students have to deal with this in their own way, within their own communities. When you step outside the box of conventional living – when you decide you’re going to go it alone as a property investor – people get challenged.
And when people get challenged, the get defensive. And suddenly your sister is blowing up at you for being ‘selfish’ or something.
You’d be surprised how often this happens.
At some point or another, we need to let go of caring what people think about us.
Thankfully, getting older seems to be a pretty good remedy,
… and it’s an option available to most of us.