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Your Eulogy in Three Words

May 12, 2024

“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.  There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

                                                                                   - Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood



Impact.  Whether we know it or not, each one of us has the ability to impact others in profound ways. 


This is usually recognized for those who positively affect the masses through speaking to large audiences, television appearances or internet posts that go viral. 


But most of the time it is done in ordinary ways, by ordinary people.  It comes in our interaction with others, usually one person at time, when we show kindness and interest in another person and authentically share ourselves and help to make someone’s life just a little better by our presence.


There is probably nobody in my lifetime that I witnessed demonstrate this more than Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame. 


Millions of kids from my generation and beyond, have been positively impacted by Mr. Rogers and his warrior-like dedication to spreading kindness, acceptance, and love to the youth of our world. 


Recently, I read an executive overview of Rogers’ book, The World According to Mr. Rogers by one of my favs, Brian Johnson from www.Optimize.me. The forward of the book is written by Rogers’ wife of 51 years, Joanne.  In reflecting on her husband’s life, she writes,


“The person Fred became in his later years came out of growth and struggle. As he got older, it seemed as if the nurturing of his soul and mind became more and more important…………………He worked hard at being the best he could be. In fact, it seems to me he worked a lot more than he played. Discipline was his very strong suit. If I were asked for three words to describe him, I think those words would be courage, love, and discipline—perhaps in that very order.”


A great life described in just three words.



Many of us are aware of the “What Would People Say of Me at My Funeral” exercise from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Effective People


In it, Covey challenges readers to imagine what they would want others to say about them at their funeral and how they would want to be remembered? In essence, what is the impact you want to have made in your lifetime and what actions do you need to take to insure this happening?


In a variation of this, columnist David Brooks, writes of the distinction of creating Resume’ Virtues versus Eulogy Virtues, by saying,  


Résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being—whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.”


Although I do not plan on going anywhere anytime soon, this got me thinking, what are the three words I would want to describe my life and eulogize me at my funeral? 


Below is my attempt to identify these qualities or Eulogy Virtues.  I do this not to just to have nice things said about me, but to challenge myself to demonstrate these qualities NOW and going forward, so one day I will be worthy of others sharing these words when describing my life. 


Here they are.


  • Integrity – I have to say, I was most hesitant to share this word, as I did not want it to seem like am saying I am above mistakes or that I have always honored my word – as I have not. On the contrary, there have been plenty of times I have fallen short in demonstrating my integrity with others, and importantly, with myself. 


However, it is my hope that much of the time, I have shown up, and will continue to show up, in ways that are consistent with me being in my integrity.  It is my intention to be someone who is truthful and can be relied upon to do what he says he is going to do, even when it is difficult and especially when it might be unpopular.


  • Inspiration – Years ago I heard a story by Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, about being interviewed on national television via a split-screen with Dr. Deepak Chopra.


The interviewer asked Chopra, “Does Jack Canfield motivate you?”  Chopra responded with a swift and definitive “NO, he does not motivate me.”  Thinking he was being thrown under the bus on a national TV interview, Canfield said his heart stopped until he heard Chopra continue to say, “Jack Canfield does not motivate me, he inspires me.  To motivate someone is to encourage them to take action in the moment or the short term, and it often does not last.  Inspiration, on the other hand, lights a flame in someone that will last a lifetime.” 


It is my hope that in my life I have been able to light a few flames inside of others along the way.


  • Empowerment – I have a theory, it may be flawed, but it is mine.

My theory is that each one of us has unique gifts to share in this world. If everyone of us felt empowered to share our unique gifts, in a way where we were fully self-expressed and serving others, the world’s many problems and challenges would cease to exist. 


This is because everyone would feel so good about themselves and have such a feeling of empowerment that they would not feel jealous, resentful, or insecure, but rather want nothing more than others to experience the same.  


Whether it’s my work as a martial arts instructor, speaker, author, coach, father or friend, it is my hope that I have helped others to feel empowered so they can serve the world as they were meant to.


So, there are my three words, my friends.  My challenge for you this week is to take some time to identify and embrace your three words.  The time is now to begin your legacy in the world. 


Who knows, showing up and coming from this place of being might just be what the world (and your neighborhood) have been waiting for?


Thanks, Mr. Rogers. 


Chris Natzke

Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching

PS:  If you are looking to create powerful and positive change in your life, click the link below to set up a 30-minute discovery call to discuss my upcoming Breaking Through Coaching Program.


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