The way you treat people, the way you carry yourself, your decision-making process, and many other aspects of your daily lives will certainly be impacted.  If you read this blog in its entirety, sit back and think about it with an open mind, you will undoubtably change the way you analyze your relationships, interaction with others, business transactions, and much more.  I know you’ve read lots of stuff…lots of good stuff, but this can impact your life following the very moment that you’re done reading.

I am a 3-strokes-in-24-hours survivor.  No, no, scratch that. I’m a-3-strokes in 24-hours “surthriver”! Yes, that’s an actual word.  Trust me.  The word-forming prefix, Sur, means, “over, above, beyond, addition”.  Thrive means to flourish, prosper, or advance.  So, surthriver works in my instance because I have miraculously flourished and prospered above and beyond many expectations following that fateful day, February 9, 2015.  My elation is continuous and I’m thankful to God for the unmerited grace He has extended towards me.  Due to this near-death experience, my attention to the meaning of my interactions, happenings in my life, and opportunities that come my way, have been immensely heightened.  I see things differently now.  I appreciate the “small things” more than ever before.  I value my life and everyone in it, differently. 

Every day you are interacting with and influencing your funeral audience.  Every day you are writing your very own eulogy.  Every word about you that is spewed from the pastor, gatherers, and those who stand to make remarks about you is 100% influenced by you.  Consider yourself your very own funeral director; meaning, you control the flow and organization of the service.  But let’s venture beyond that. You will control the energy in the room.  You decide who speaks or desires to speak but can’t due to the lack of time.  You decide who will go to the graveside services and even who gets a chicken plate at the repass.  You are scripting out your funeral with every interaction.  Every one of them! That interaction you recently had with that stranger; that person you only speak to in passing; the cashier at the store; your tailor; your mailman or mailwoman; the salesman that often solicits you; each interaction influences your guest attendance.

I’ve thought about this over the years but more so in the last few weeks, primarily because I’ve attended two funerals in the past six months.  In both instances, I didn’t personally know either of the deceased but in one instance, I was a pallbearer, at the request of her son whom is a dear friend and mentor of mine. The other funeral was for the mother of a good friend of mine, Mike Lopez, whom I occasionally connect and do business with.  I consider him one my realest and best friends.  Wonderful things were said about both of these wonderful women.  Not only did I wish I was lucky enough to know them while they were alive, but for the two hours in which they were memorialized, I learned quite a few things from them.  They each spoke to me loud and clear through the word’s mourners shared about them. They each impacted so many people and were loved by people of all ages, colors and backgrounds. Two things that truly stuck in my mind following each service.

They are:

  1. How you treat other people matters in this life.
  2. How people feel about themselves after an interaction with you matters.

I know it may seem elementary, but many people have forgotten that mutual respect for others is paramount to their progression in life.  Also, by taking the focus off oneself and shining it on someone else while interacting with them can be life changing to that person.

I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one in the room that hadn’t personally met these ladies.  Nonetheless, each of us are better for “knowing” them.  Although it briefly, their impact on our lives will live on and impact others we meet.  You see, neither one of them knew me but because of the impact they made on those connected to me, I was sitting in their funeral audience.

Now, why should this matter to your life and how it can help you?

This should matter to you because we all hope to make our mark on this world by the time we leave this world.  That “world” may be your family.  It may be your social circle.  I may be your church, your business, or a charity that is dear to your heart.  Understand that each person you meet in these arenas will possibly make up your funeral audience.  This knowledge can be helpful by considering how you go about your daily life.  Consider your daily routine.  Consider how you work with others.  Consider how you make others feel.  This knowledge can change the trajectory of your career.  Your life.  Your marriage.  Your business ventures.  Your health.   Your memory.

I get it, you may not care about who shows up to your funeral.  You’re gone, right? Well if you don’t care about that, you should care that you’re loved ones are comforted by those who are better as people simply because you came passing by at some point in their lives.  Personally, I don’t want a room full of “lookie loos”.  I want people that I’ve genuinely touched in a positive way to celebrate my life.  I don’t want anyone to struggle finding great things to say about me.  Know that your funeral audience reflects how you lived your life. Why not make your final good-bye celebration be one of joy, authenticity, and great memories?

At the funeral for Mike’s mother, Diane Lopez, he shared that she was known to shout, “I’m rich! I’m rich!”  Understand, that she was never rich in the worldly context of the word.  She was rich in spirit, in kindness, and love for others. Mike shared what rich really meant to him.  The R stands for REJOICE.  The I stand for INSPIRE. The C stands for COMPASSION.  And the H stands for HOPE.

This really touched me especially since I had a near-death experience.  Regardless of your circumstances, trials, and shortcomings, find a way to REJOICE in it.  Be thankful that you have yet another day to do it better, to be better.  INSPIRE others to be more and do more with their lives.   Through the impact that you make in this world you can impact others to do the same.  If we have a world full of people trying to do this, well, the world would truly be a better place.  Have COMPASSION for everyone.  Don’t just have it for those less fortunate but for anyone that is dealing with a tough situation in their lives.  Everyone needs some grace, love, and compassion at some point.  Finally, live a life that gives HOPE and encouragement to others.  Several years ago, I attended a workshop facilitated by my good friend and executive coach, Stephen Elcano.  He introduced me to the phrase, “Dealer of Hope”.  I thought that this was the perfect phrase to describe people who are always looking to serve others by spreading hope and encouragement.  We should all strive to be Dealers of Hope. 

In closing, I don’t know about you, but I hope my funeral audience is full of R. I.C. H. people. 

Hopefully people that I’ve inspired to practice R. I. C. H. That’s the type of legacy I hope to leave behind.

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