As has happened to me many times before, I recently found myself inspired by a eulogy delivered by a friend upon the passing of their parent. Every funeral I attend leaves me a better person because of something I learn about the deceased, and their life well lived.
With my friend’s permission, here are my favorite excerpts from this most recent one:
1) Think for yourself. As early as I can remember, Dad told me to think for myself. Don’t follow the crowd and don’t make investments based on emotion or nostalgia.
2) Be self-sufficient. From as early as I can remember, Dad told us to do things for ourselves. Three common phrases I heard were: “Never spend more than you make,” “You deserve what you earned, nothing more,” and “Don’t write a check your ass can’t cover.”
3) Humility. Having watched my dad interact with people from all stations in life–from clerks to CEOs, Committeemen to Congressman–I can tell you he never talked down (or up) to anyone. Dad didn’t see color, race, or religion, he judged people solely by their character or lack of it. In his last months when he was in the hospital or rehab centers, in spite of his frustration and discomfort, the aids and nurses would often comment on how he would always say please and thank you.
4) Save and invest, don’t spend everything you make. Dad explained the benefit of allowing your money to work for you. He would often say time is your best friend. He schooled me on the difference between gambling and investing. Study the data, understand the pitfalls, price the risk, don’t take unnecessary risk, and don’t bet everything in one place–diversify.
5) Integrity. All of my life, I watched my father operate out of principle. In disputes, Dad would say, “Look at the spirit of the agreement,” even if it was to his detriment. He always allowed others to take credit when due and always showed appreciation.
6) Friends and helping people. While Dad taught us to be self-sufficient, he always helped others, giving counsel and making an introduction or a call on someone’s behalf.
7) Parenting. About 10 years ago, I asked Dad how he balanced giving us everything without spoiling us. He simply said, “I gave you and your brother and sister everything you needed to be successful.” When I asked how to prevent spoiling my children, he smiled and said, “Give them everything they need to be successful, and remember they are competing in a global market. Give them the best computers and education you can.”
8) Be prepared. Dad always said you might not be the smartest person in the room, but there is no excuse for not being completely prepared. He always said to try to think of every question that would be asked before it was asked, advice that has served me well on countless occasions.
9) Love and Family. Dad was not afraid to tell us he loved us and was proud of us. The grandchildren always brought a big smile to his face, even in the last weeks of his life. Dad told me how much he loved Mom. He had great respect for her. And after watching her advocate for Dad these last six months, my siblings and I have an additional level of admiration for her.
10) Don’t be afraid of death, don’t prolong it. On many occasions, Dad told me (as well as my siblings) when it is his time, let him go. He didn’t believe in prolonging life and he believed people should have the right to end their life, humanely.
What have been some of your inspirations, whether from a eulogy or otherwise? Join the conversation with your comments…