Will You Like the View from Your Deathbed?

Looking back on your career & leadership from your deathbed, will you be A) Happy & content or B) Sad & full of regret? It's not too late to change your answer.

Man on Death Bed Ponders His Career and LeadershipYou’re laying in your deathbed. As you think about family and friends, those you’ve loved and lost, another thought creeps up – it’s about your career and the leadership your portrayed. As you think about this, you are:

A. Happy and content
B. Sad and full of regret

Well, which is it? What will you think of yourself and the leadership you portrayed, as you lay on your deathbed? You will be proud of how you helped others build themselves and their organizations? Or, will you regret the people you trampled on your climb to individual fame and fortune? If the latter, will it be worth it?

Here is a sobering thought for you: 99% of people reading this will be virtually forgotten for their individual achievements, 5 years after they are gone. What you are more likely to be remembered for is how you mentored others, how you served organizations and how you helped others become more than they would have been without you.

The best test, and the most difficult to administer, is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? – Robert K. Greenleaf

Make Yourself Happy on Your Deathbed

What will make you happiest on your deathbed? Will it be:

  • That your name was once on a magazine cover?
  • That you achieved a series of impressive sounding titles?
  • That you made more money than your competition?

Or, will you be happier:

  • That you helped mentor others to become better themselves?
  • That you built an organization focused on serving a community?
  • That you supported sustainable solutions that will provide income and resources for the future?

There will be a few individuals who, sadly, prefer the former group. While I feel sorry for them, this site and post is not for narcissistic and toxic leaders. That form of leadership is too easy to practice and achieve short-term results through. For the rest of us – those that want to be remembered for serving others – find the greatest happiness through servant leadership.

It’s Not Too Late – Go Serve!

Even if you chose “B” above and believe you would sad and full of regret, there is good news. If you are reading this, it’s not too late. Change your leadership practices and focus on servant leadership principles. Find someone to mentor, shift your focus to serve others first and serve all your stakeholders. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Servant Leadership Manifesto and follow the call to action at the end.

Question: No need to answer this one publicly, but what will you think of your leadership as you reflect from your deathbed?



Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

2 thoughts on “Will You Like the View from Your Deathbed?”

  1. This really resonates! I hope to be remembered for the love I actively shared with others, in words yes, and most of all, in action and service. I would feel gratitude, on my deathbed, for the wisdom of the heart that I have expressed and received back a hundred fold – often in surprising and unexpected ways. With that in mind, life’s disappointments will be made small and love and service would loom large!

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