Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beginning With The End In Mind

I have observed this week, with interest and private praise, the heroes of the civil rights movement and the Greensboro sit-ins, those continuing to be committed to helping in Haiti, and those who are just doing small things, of great significance, in the lives of their families and the community. I am reminded of one of my favorite sections of one of Steven Covey's books, a section entitled "Beginning With the End in Mind".

Dr. Covey asks the reader to really focus, and in your mind's eye, visualize yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral, getting out of your car and going inside the building. You notice the flowers and the soft music, and you see faces of friends and family as you pass long the way. As you walk down to the front and look inside the casket you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All the people have come to honor you and to express feelings of appreciation for your life.

There are to be four speakers, one from your family, one from your work, one from your church or community organization, and a friend. Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter; what kind of friend, working associate? What character, what values would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions or achievements would you want them to remember? What difference would you like to have made in their lives?

If you participate seriously in this visualization experience, you touch for a moment on some deep, fundamental values. Dr. Covey says the most fundamental application of "begin with the end in mind" is to begin today with the image or picture of the end of your life as your frame of reference from which you live your life.

What really matters most? How different our lives can be when we really know what is deeply important to us. Keeping that picture in mind can help us manager ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most. For me, it is about trying to be faithful to God's purpose for my life. It is not easy or clear. But when I attempt to begin with the end in mind, I can gain a different perspective on life and its demands and activities.

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