Should You Live Your Resume… or Your Eulogy?

David Brooks, in his TED Talk, Should You Live Your Resume… or Your Eulogy?, poses a profound question of focus to great leaders about how they choose to live their life – the powerful question of what they do and why they do it. He introduces his discussion saying:

“So I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you put on your résumé, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistent? And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But at least, in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no”.

He shares the thoughts from Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik who, in his book, The Lonely Man Of Faith, describes what he calls the two sides of our nature – Adam I and Adam II. Brooks writes:

“Adam I is the worldly, ambitious, external side of our nature. He wants to build, create, create companies, create innovation. Adam II is the humble side of our nature. Adam II wants not only to do good but to be good, to live in a way internally that honors God, creation and our possibilities. Adam I wants to conquer the world. Adam II wants to hear a calling and obey the world. Adam I savors accomplishment. Adam II savors inner consistency and strength. Adam I asks how things work. Adam II asks why we’re here. Adam I’s motto is “success.” Adam II’s motto is “love, redemption and return.”

Brooks refers to these two virtues as being in confrontation. I suggest, however, that in the great leaders’ lives, it is more of a balancing of both virtues, and that each can be lived fully. Adam II provides the foundational balance, the internal self and character in guiding the well-lived life of Adam I. Adam II is the model of the great servant leader. The question, however, in this balancing is: Should you live for your resume… or your eulogy? Which resume will you choose to guide your life? Will the answer be “success”? Or will it be “love”? I humbly entreat you to consider love. A life of love will bring success beyond your wildest dreams. Love first, and success will follow. May your life, eulogy and legacy be one of love. As England Dan and John Ford Coley sing, “Love is the answer.” Make your song one to be remembered.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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