From time to time I encourage people to write their epitaph (or if they’re in the mood, their eulogy) as a way of clarifying what they really want their life to stand for. I use it myself from time to time so see whether I’m living at the cutting edge of my life or whether I’m settling for a smaller and ultimately less satisfying version of existence.
Another way to think of this is to consider how Time Magazine might feature you if you appeared on its cover.
In true Time Magazine fashion, it would be short, engaging and to the point. For me, ‘Hillary Clinton and the Rise of Smart Power’ is a perfect example of how just 8 words can capture the essence of a woman’s life.
Personally, I’d like mine to read ‘Samantha Nolan-Smith and the new face of feminism.’
It says everything I would most want the world to know about my life – that I influenced women by bringing a new consciousness into their lives.
A consciousness which revolutionised women’s perceptions of themselves and the world.
A consciousness which freed them from physical and mental patriarchal structures. Structures of victimhood, structures which advocate that fight and push is the way to change, structures that tell women to value a man’s contribution in the world more highly than their own.
Is it a big and rather audacious dream that makes me worried that people might think I’m obnoxious and arrogant? Sure. And then I remember that I only ever think those feelings about others when they’re taking a step I’m too afraid to take, and I step back into my power.
Will I realise it? I don’t know.
Perhaps, perhaps not. Not without help. Not on my own. But as part of a collective, I expect we will.
What I do know is that I’m on my way. That it sits at the core of everything I do.
This desire for women to fulfil their potential. To live bigger lives. Lives that matter. To them and to the world.
Once you find your Time Magazine cover, everyday decisions become easier. If for example I’m tossing up between two new business initiatives, the question I ask myself is simply this; ‘Is this consistent with my Time Magazine cover? Is is consistent with the woman I’ll be then?’ If yes, then I go for it. If no, I go back to the drawing board, I tweak, I improve or I dream a bigger dream.
It also gets you into the mind space of the person you’re becoming. You start living in her skin. Feeling the world as she feels it, seeing it, understanding it, behaving in it as though you were already there.
Then you know what happens? Like magic, all the opportunities, the experiences and the people you need to realise your dream start to reveal themselves to you. And when Time Magazine finally calls to write a piece about you, well you’re not surprised at all.
It’s scary to name your dreams out loud. Scary, but necessary to their realisation.
Not naming them, on the other hand, is a soul destroying habit.
So, what do you want your life to stand for? What matters most to you? How do you want to be perceived by the world? These are critical visibility questions. Ones we must all ask.
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