Posted by David Oates 5 years, 1 month ago


I used to hate the question "What do you want to see on your tombstone?" I found the topic morbid and a bit self serving.

But I've had a change of heart lately. Here's why. I began volunteering at the annual Rotarians at Work project a few years back, where several of us from my service club headed out to Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery to do some landscape work and gravestone cleaning. As the sun saluted the marble placards, the names engraved in the rocks reflected back at me; individuals who served in every conflict from World War I to today's conflict in Afghanistan, many with great distinction. Their histories, service and sacrifice were prominently displayed for eternity.

Then it hit me like cannon fire. The tens of thousands lying in a well-deserved state of rest overlooking the San Diego Bay and Pacific Ocean had their brand emblazoned and enshrined forever. Each internment wasn't just a place of remembrance, but also lasting legacy that personifies what each of them represented in themselves. While I'm sure many of them did other good things in their life, it was the writings on these tombstones that represented their their unique brand.

I know think it's a good idea for each CEO to ask themselves what their gravestone would read if they were to meet their maker today. An honest evaluation of what the writings would be is a good way to ensure that what they do as business leaders and managers of others is conducted with the highest degrees of integrity and concern for others. If it reads otherwise, it will be a great guide to helping them make some much needed changes before their actions become permanently etched in stone.


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