This post is a little different from my usual ones. It still applies to project management, security, business, productivity. Last week I went to a funeral. Tommy Kuehn was 24 when he died. I had been his next-door neighbor, and essentially got to watch him grow up. The service was held during the worst snowstorm this winter yet. What was normally a 1 hour drive took almost 2 1/2. As I watched cars disappear into the drifts and snow of the storm, spinning out of control on the interstate, I had a lot of time to think.
Start at the end to get to the beginning. While I was driving I happened to be listening to a podcast about “assumptive goal planning.” I think I’ll write a post about it in the future, but the point is rather than figuring out what you need to do to improve process, be productive, boost sales, etc. and then try to make your numbers, think about where you’d want to be at the end of the goal. Think about what you could say about what you did, or what you accomplished, such as “we improved customer retention rates by 15%.” By thinking about the future and putting yourself in the future, you help avoid the mental block of figuring out everything that you’re going to do in order to get to your goal. You work backwards, distilling down objectives and tasks, until you end up the roadmap.
Back to Tommy. I don’t remember who said (paraphrasing) “if you want to know how to live your life, think about what you want people to say about you at your funeral and work backwards.” Tommy was a really great kid. I say kid because that’s how I still think of him, even though he was really grown. He had an infectious personality, grinning, smiling, always willing to help, intelligent, and positive. He died suddenly of bacterial meningitis in a matter of days.
So remember, terrible storm. Snow everywhere, slick roads, no visibility. Monday morning.
Conservatively there were 500 people at Tommy’s funeral. His mom told me that they had the showing the day before. It was at the funeral home up the street where he had learned to ride his bike in the parking lot when he was little. She said there were so many people that showed up, they had to shut the doors near the end. There was a line outside and people stood in the cold to pay their respects. In a very short amount time Tommy made a very large and positive impact on a lot of people. Unfortunately, I’m left wondering what he could’ve accomplished had he not died so young.
But here’s the point. What do you want to be when you grow up? Are you happy with your current job? Are you loyal to your job or to your profession? Are you producing the work or the results that you want to? Whether you’re a project manager, engineer, security professional, a leader, or manager, what is the impression you want to make? What do you want your legacy to be?
It was never too early to start thinking about your future accomplishments through yesterday’s reactions for tomorrow’s past.
Long live Tommy.