Business ownership done right should be about freedom, fun, fulfillment and significant money. It should also be about serving and helping the lives of others, especially your customers and employees. Business ownership done wrong is about imprisonment, frustration and very little wealth. And, you can’t serve and help others and your community if your business is broken.
Most of us, including myself, were not properly taught how to design, structure, develop and run a business. Early on, we made big mistakes, paid heavy prices, and made costly sacrifices. Some of us stumbled onto a path of greater success, balance and fulfillment through trial and error. Some of us got good business coaching or mentoring. Some of us got early wake-up calls or warning signs and we were open and receptive to modifying our mindsets and approaches.
Just in case you missed your personal awakening, here is another face-reality, wake-up call. Brace yourself, this is some serious stuff but designed to give you the right perspective about your business and life. As your Growth Coach, I want you to draw out an old-fashioned tombstone and at the top, write down your full name, birth date, a dash, and then your expected death date. Go ahead, this shouldn’t be difficult … everyone has a rough idea, based on genetics and current health habits and stress levels, how long they expect to live on this earth.
What is your projected life expectancy? Are you satisfied with that? If not, commit to change some habits NOW … quit smoking, lose weight, eat better, workout more, sleep longer, reduce stress, get a checkup, etc. By the way, the average life expectancy in the United States is currently around 78 years of age.
Now, let’s move beyond quantity of years to quality of years. Think deeply about what you want written on your tombstone. That’s right, how do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be? What and who are most important to you? Go ahead, jot down your thoughts about your epitaph.
Odds are you did not think about your business or even your level of success or wealth. You probably thought about your role as a spouse, parent, friend, citizen, faith member, etc. On your deathbed, you most likely want to be surrounded by family, friends, fond memories, and your faith … nothing materialistic. After all, it matters not your financial or business success if you lose everything else in the process … including the love and respect of your spouse, children, and friends; your physical and mental health; your faith; and all the simple experiences and joys of life. Lesson here, keep balance in your life. Keep your business in perspective. After all, didn’t you start your business to have MORE LIFE, not less?
Now comes facing reality … dealing with the truth. Look what you wrote for your tombstone. How do you want to ultimately be remembered? Are you truly living your life right now in alignment with these ultimate wishes? Are you being the person, spouse, parent, friend, citizen, and believer you truly want to be, especially as described on your tombstone? Are you on course to leave a lasting and meaningful legacy? Nurturing quality relationships with your loved ones and giving them proper time, attention and love? Or, are you off track? Focusing on the wrong priorities? Making bad choices with your time, money, and habits?
The tombstone test is designed to give you the big perspective, a sense of urgency, and a wake-up call to live your life according to your highest priorities and values. While a bit morbid, it flat-out works! It should shake you up a bit to fully examine your current life against your big-picture vision. Also, the good news is that you have time now to make any necessary changes … your heart is still beating. Let this be your wake-up call to get on a path to greater fulfillment and balance. Remember, a business is only a vehicle to achieve a fuller life. A business is the means, not the end. Again, is your business giving you MORE life, freedom, fulfillment and financial success? If not, do yourself and your family a huge favor … get some on-going business coaching and accountability to help change your mindset, behavior, habits, and results.
Another benefit to the tombstone test is that by facing and accepting your own mortality, you can begin to appreciate and live a full life. By acknowledging that our life on earth is finite, we can make wiser choices, especially about how, where and with whom we spend our precious time. By facing death, we are truly liberated and life becomes sweeter, more meaningful, and something we no longer take for granted. Hope this was a beneficial wake-up call for you.
Have no regrets. As a popular song a few years back said, “live like you are dying.” To help you live a more balanced and meaningful life, take this 5-minute, confidential, on-line business coaching and lifestyle assessment quiz to find out if and where you need some assistance. Also, our popular and free e-book, “Becoming a Strategic Business Owner”, will definitely help you get more out of your business and life.