This weekend, I had one of the best experiences of my undergraduate career (of my life, quite possibly). For the past 8 months, I have been involved in an organization called Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) – UofT Chapter as part of the Conference Executive Team. Our task was to organize and lead the first annual WISE National Conference for young female and male leaders in the fields of science, business, engineering and technology. This weekend, after months of e-mailing keynote speakers, organizing workshops, and contacting competition judges, that conference became a reality. It was a pleasure to meet a group of talented students and professionals from diverse backgrounds and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I had a part in making it all happen. I can sincerely say that I enjoyed every moment, every late night, and every stressful conversation that led to this point. But there’s one instance that stands out for me in particular.
During her talk, one of our keynote speakers, Akela Peoples, encouraged a room full of eager delegates to change the way they lived and worked today so that they’d be proud of the person they grew to be years from now. She suggested that we take the time to write a eulogy that we’d be proud to have someone read at our own funeral. A somewhat morbid thought but one with a powerful message: If you want the world to remember you in the best light after you’re gone, you have to live your life being the best you that you can be.
I came home after the conference and thought to myself “What would I want others to say at my funeral? How would I want them to remember me?” What strikes me the most is that I don’t think of specific accomplishments or career moves that I hope to have accomplished before I pass on like I thought I would. I wouldn’t want a family member to stand at the podium and read out my resume to remember my passing. Instead, I think of the qualities and the skills that I hope to have obtained by then. Character. Service to humanity and to the community. Behaviour. Attitude.
We can be so caught up in getting ahead, in finding success, and in being the best that we forget to nurture the qualities and skills that we value most and pride ourselves on. Even worse, we overstep the people that we hope will be with us till the very end, speaking the words we’d want to be spoken when it’s our time. But in the end, it won’t matter where you placed in life, how far you went, or how high you climbed. What will matter is how you treated your peers and your subordinates, how you reacted to failure, and how much love and happiness you brought to the lives of your friends and family.
Till next week,