Imagine you are at your funeral. You see the flowers and can hear the soft music. You see all your family, friends, employees, and neighbors–the people you care about. You feel the joy of sharing your life with them and the sorrow of losing it. But what are they saying about you?
You see in the program that there are four speakers. The first speaker is a family member that has known you your entire life. The second speaker is your closest friend. The third speaker is a long-time employee. And the fourth speaker is someone from your church or community.
Now think deeply. What would you like them to say about you? How would you like to be remembered? What kind of sibling, parent, or friend were you? What qualities would you want them to remember you by? Which of your achievements are talked about? What impact did you have on their lives?
If you have seriously participated in this exercise, you have touched on some of your base values. You have found your inner guidance system. You have taken the first step in Stephen Covey's second habit of highly effective people–begin with the end in mind.
Now, the exercise I asked you to do is the most basic application of "beginning with the end in mind." But there are many other applications, for example, what you want to get done today, what projects are you working on, any family vacations, personal goals, business direction, and many others.
Stephen Covey writes, "To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means you know where you're going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction."
It is very easy to get caught in the activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder only to find that you end up in a place you don't want to be. It's possible to be very busy but not effective. Remember, being effective means being successful in producing your desired result.
Definition of Success
If you carefully consider what you want people to remember you for, you will find your definition of success. And don't be surprised if it differs from what our culture says success is. Money or fame may not even be in your definition, and that's just fine.
By beginning with the end in mind, you gain a different perspective to help you be proactive and direct your life toward your definition of success.
We make plans first, and then we execute those plans. We don't just start pouring concrete and nailing boards together when building a house. No, we have blueprints and detailed plans for each step until the house is built. We know what the end result is going to be before we even start building. We begin with the end in mind.
Our personal and professional lives should be similar. We should have a plan for where we would like to end up. When we are not being proactive, we are reactive to what is happening; we have no clear direction. Proverbs 29:18a (KJV) says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
You already begin with the end in mind to varying degrees. Before you go on a trip, you plan the route you will take. Before you plant a garden, you plan it out in your head. Before going shopping, you create a shopping list. Before you start a quilt, you pick your design, pattern, colors, and how you're going to use it. You begin with the end in mind for little things, and you need to do it for everything in your life, including your quilt shop.
You can see how this applies to your quilt shop, from classes to block-of-the-month programs, to day-to-day operations. Management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker says, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." In other words, management is about efficiency and keeping the train moving. Leadership is about determining where the train is headed--about being effective.
It's easy to become preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of daily life, which can make you overlook the importance of staying on track with your goals. And life and business are constantly shifting and changing. We have no idea what is going to happen. But we must adapt to it. And the easiest way we can stay true to the end is with a vision rooted in correct principles and values.
Stephen Covey says, "The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value."
But how do you determine that? What are your drivers? Covey calls these drivers your "center" and identifies some common but false centers.
The first is the spouse-centered person. Marriage can be the most intimate, satisfying, enduring, and growth-producing relationship. But it can also lead to intense emotional dependence on your spouse, leaving you vulnerable to their moods and feelings.
Next is the family-centered person. Again, this one may seem to be natural and reasonable. Families can provide opportunities for deep relations and what makes life worthwhile. However, family-centered people are vulnerable to changes in tradition or culture and any influences that affect the family's reputation.
Third, the money-centered person. Financial stability in their personal life is critical, but they are threatened by many things outside their control–the weather, the economy, wars, etc. And they often put aside family and other priorities, assuming everyone will understand that financial demands come first.
The work-centered person wants to be seen and admired for their title, work ethic, or profession and is vulnerable to anything that threatens it.
The possession-centered person wants things like houses, cars, jewelry, fame, glory, and social prestige. You may recognize how flawed this is because it can all vanish in a flash and is influenced by many factors outside your control.
The pleasure-centered person is all about the experience. We live in a world where instant gratification is available and encouraged. Now innocent pleasures in moderation can provide relaxation and bonding experiences with friends and family, which is needed. But the pleasure-centered person often gets bored with the current level of fun in their lives and looks for ways to one-up their last fun experience. They become narcissistic, interpreting all of life in terms of the pleasure it provides them here and now.
The church-centered person is focused on doing church activities and loses the spirituality of the church. They become so focused on appearing to be a faithful member that they become insensitive to the pressing needs around them, contradicting the very precepts they claim to believe.
Self-centered people are like the Dead Sea; they only accept and never give.
Yet, focusing on personal growth to enhance your capacity to serve, create, and make meaningful contributions can lead to greater self-awareness.
These centers are usually easier to see in others than in ourselves. But where do you stand? What is the center of your life? What is the foundation you are rooted in?
By centering your life on correct principles, you create a solid foundation. Correct principles do not change. They do not react to anything. They don't get mad and treat you differently. They won't divorce you and leave. They aren't out to get you. They don't pave your way with shortcuts. They don't follow fads. They aren't here one day and gone the next. And they can't be destroyed.
Principles are universal facts that hold true in any circumstance and are bigger than individuals. They've consistently prevailed in history and can be validated through personal experience, giving a sense of security. The guidance and wisdom accompanying a principled-centered life enable you to see where you want to go and how to get there and give you the courage to work for it.
But what are these correct principles? How can we know what they are?
In Luke 6:47-48 (CSB), Jesus said, "I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn't shake it, because it was well-built."
And in Philippians 4:8 (CSB), we read, "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things."
And finally, the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12 (ESV), "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them..."
To begin with the end in mind is to create a principle-based plan, from a vision and mission statement to your goals to running the day-to-day operations of your quilt shop and life.
Again, "To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means you know where you're going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction." (Stephen Covey)
How do you want to be remembered? What impact do you want to have? What is your mission statement? Are you working towards it? What changes do you need to make? Tell me in the comments below. I hope this helps you as you plan for the coming months.