How Will You Be Remembered?
Alfred Nobel is best known for the award named after him, the Nobel Prize. This prestigious award has five categories: literature, science, physiology, chemistry and one for international fraternity. What most people don't know is that Alfred Nobel had over 350 patents. One of his most famous inventions was dynamite. While some would think that the numerous patents made Alfred Nobel a well-respected inventor, it was quite the opposite because of his tie to the creation of dynamite. This was made apparent when his brother's death caused a flurry of newspaper reports. Those reports mistakenly published obituaries about Alfred Nobel instead of his brother. In one such obituary it stated "Le marchand de la mort est mort" ("The merchant of death is dead"). As you can imagine, this hit Alfred Nobel hard. Were people really celebrating his death? As tough as it must have been to take, his brother's unfortunate death and the response afterwards gave Alfred Nobel an opportunity to change something most of us take for granted...how others will see us after death.
Take a moment to look at your own life. When you are on or death bed, will you look back in regret and think about the things you should have done? The truth is, we probably spend most of our time trying to hang onto the pleasures of our youth. We also probably spend more hours at work than we should and we probably spend way to much time looking at our financial portfolio instead of spending time with our family and friends. These things have temporary value and when we leave this world, those things will be left behind. But if we want to have a legacy that will last long after we leave this world, we should spend our time, talent, and resources on things that will have eternal significance.
In his last will and testament, Alfred Nobel set aside almost his entire fortune to establish an award that we now know as the Nobel prizes. Today, Alfred Nobel is not known as the inventor of dynamite or even as the "merchant of death." Instead, he is remembered for excellence because he had the opportunity to change the way others viewed him. Although Alfred Nobel’s story focuses on things he did within his own resources and abilities, the lesson we should take away from this is that we all have the opportunity to make a change.
If you were to die today, what would be said of you in your obituary? Who would show up to your funeral? Will you be ashamed of what others would say? Will you leave this world a better place by your words and actions? My hope is that you will take advantage of the opportunities you have now to make the answer to these questions something you will be happy with when you leave this world.