“Ask not what your country can do for you. Instead, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
“Heal the world and make it a better it a better place; for you and for me and the entire human race. If you care enough for the living, make the world a better place.” – Michael Jackson
Sometime ago, I was reading an interview granted to a journalist by Aliko Dangote, the richest black man in the world as at the time of writing this article. Towards the end of the interview, he was asked; “what do you want to be remembered for after your death.” In reply, he answered “I want to be remembered as Africa’s greatest industrialist.”
“To the philosopher, death is but the next great adventure.” – J.K. Rowling
Dangote’s answer hit me like thunderbolt. For many nights, I lay on my bed and thought about his answer. I have both short term and long term goals but I haven’t given a thought to what I want to be remembered for after I exit this world. It was such a big audacious thought.
It shocked me to realize that while I was planning 10 – 20 years ahead, great men were already thinking of the future generation, a generation they will never meet. For many weeks I kept asking myself this same question; “what will I be remembered for after I bow to the cold hands of death” What will be said of me after I leave this world?
“For whatsoever thy hands find to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave.” – Ecclesiastes 9: 10
Finally, I found my answer to this question and set the goal of what is to be achieved. Now I don’t know if I am going to hit the goal but I am definitely going to strive towards its actualization. If I make it, I will die fulfilled.
“My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” – Oprah Winfrey
Please I am not writing this to tell you how good I am at setting goals. I am writing to challenge your goals. I am writing to throw you the question that changed my thinking and challenged my belief. At this point, I want you to take a look at the question:
“what do you want to be remembered for after you exit this world.”
Close your eyes and reflect on it. If it touches you, then know that you have a call; a call to a higher purpose. I am not talking about fame, money or spiritual matters; I am talking about making a name higher than life.
“We must have a theme, a goal, a purpose in our lives. If you don’t know where you are aiming, you don’t have a goal. My goal is to live my life in such a way that when I die, someone can say, ‘she cared.” – Mary Kay Ash
Most people avoid discussing issues concerning death but the truth is we can’t run away from it. It is definitely a path we must pass through.
- What do you want to be said about you?
- What will your name stand for in the minds of different people?
- How many lives will you touch during your life time and how many more lives will you touch after your death?
Please this question is not for everybody to answer, it’s for those with a higher calling, a call higher than life. It’s for those with a strong mission, a mission stronger than death.
Even in death, Michael Jackson will continue to fight racism through his songs. The Wright brothers will still be appreciated for inventing the airplane. Henry Ford will still be remembered for his insistence on democratizing the automobile and making it available for the masses. Even in death, Warren Buffett will still be respected as the world’s finest investor. John F. Kennedy will still be remembered for putting a man on the moon.
“I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think it’s an on-going process and it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s about being able to touch somebody’s life.” – Oprah Winfrey
Martin Luther King’s name has been imprinted in the sands of time for his “I have a dream” speech and the world will be eternally grateful to Winston Churchill for his inspiring speech that motivated England’s move against Adolf Hitler. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Rockefeller foundation and Getty Foundation will continue to do good even after their founders have passed on. The list can go on and on. Most of these men are long dead but their name will continue to do good and better the lives of humanity.
“Over a three year period, I gave away half of what I had. To be honest, my hands shook as I signed it away. I knew I was taking myself out of the race to be the richest man in the world.” – Ted Turner
I am not saying you should compete or strive to be like these great men. All I am saying is you should discover your purpose on earth; the purpose for which you were created. If you are going to build a business, find a higher call for which that business will serve. Twelve companies originally made up the Dow Jones when it was created but today, only General Electric still stands. The sole reason why General Electric still stands today is because it’s being guided by the spirit of Thomas Edison. That spirit is found in its mission statement.
“It’s not until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are – not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down the spirit within – that you can begin to control.” – Oprah Winfrey
If you want your business to stand the test of time, then build it on the foundation of a strong mission. Not just a mission to make money but a mission to positively impact on the lives of humanity. Forge that higher purpose of yours into a mission statement; merge it with a strong vision and then sell it to your business team. Let your mission be the guiding principle for the managers of your business and your spirit will continue to guide your company even after your death.
As a final note, I ask again: “What do you want to be remembered for when you exit this world” You alone hold the answer to this question. If you can find your own answer to this question and discover your purpose, a new world will open to you, a world few people will ever see.