Many years ago I led a group through an exercise to determine their collective vision and goals. The task for them was to write an obituary for the company, starting with the words “Here lies...” They were asked to set out their thoughts of how the company would be remembered and to write them on a tombstone template for visual effect.
I anticipated that not everyone would use favourable words. I had expected to see “good riddance” or “thank God it's over” crop up more than once. I expected a plethora of profanities. I couldn't have been more surprised by the results. As I collected the obituaries from the group I noticed that not one person had written a negative word. During the break I pinned all of the obituaries up on the wall side by side. I then invited everyone back into the room to walk in silence and read each one. It turned out to be a very moving exercise with the energy in the room completely changing as more obituaries were read. I even saw tears in many eyes, tears of pride and appreciation from the realisation of the overwhelming first hand evidence that visions and goals were so positively aligned. Everyone was on the same beautiful path. Everyone felt that the work they were doing was worthwhile and making a massive difference to the lives of others.
Now this was not a small group, it consisted of sixty or so people but the cohesion of the group was palpable by the end of the session. I have never been so moved by the results of a workplace exercise than I was when reading those obituaries. The positive effect on the group was incredible. Individuals looked at one another with an understanding that seemed to say thank you without any words needed. It was clear to see that despite bad days and times of stress, everyone was together and heading in the same direction; and despite what came out of some people's mouths, their underlying values were steadfast. Trust, integrity, teamwork, pride and empowerment were the very strong core values of the day. It was everything the company stood for from the ground up and from the top down.
I have often used this exercise for myself and it always gives me a prod in the right direction and keeps me on track for my highest good. Some obituaries have shown me that by struggling for words I have strayed into fear which is ego, others have shown that my self worth needs work on; and others have came easily from the heart and confirmed that I have been living as my authentic self.
If you had to write an obituary for yourself, what would it say? A job title wouldn't tell anyone what you were like as a person. Would you put a bank balance or list of assets on your headstone? What about your make of car, or number of Facebook friends? I don't think so. So what would you say? This is a great exercise to see if you are actually living from the heart or from a place of ego. Has something come up that you aspire to be? Is life is passing you by while you wait for something? What are you waiting for? Do you need help to break a limiting thought or belief? Or would you surprise yourself at how much beauty, positivity and insight pours onto the page? There doesn't have to be major accomplishments, there doesn't have to be evidence of wealth or grandeur. Just make a start and see what flows. You may end up with a vision for the future that until now you hadn't even thought of expressing. Whatever appears will tell you what you need to know about yourself in the here and now. Sometimes we think things about our self but it’s only when we come to write those thoughts down do we see just how ridiculous and limiting they are, or how wonderfully true and empowering they are!
As Ken Keyes Jnr. writes in the Handbook to Higher Consciousness, “To see your drama clearly, is to be liberated from it.” Nothing could be more confronting than facing your own obituary or tombstone, but it's never too early to write your own script.