I recently attended a memorial service for a good friend’s dad. I didn’t personally know his father but listening to my friend speak so eloquently at the service, I couldn’t help but be moved. In a few short minutes, he seemed to have captured the essence of his father’s life, cementing his legacy before everyone in attendance.
I don’t mind going to memorial services. Of course, you never want to experience the death of a loved one. But there’s something about coming face to face with death that spotlights what is truly important in this life. That is, no matter what experiences or wealth you accumulate, at the end of life, it is one’s legacy that defines them and has the most lasting impact.
The ancient Stoics thought one should always keep death at the forethought of one’s mind — live as if you are dying. It’s a useful mental exercise to improve how you live in the present. The thought of death should urge you into living your most virtuous life, and not taking the opportunities you have today for granted.
- How can this ancient philosophy improve your dental practice and career?
Keep the End in Mind and Become a Better Doctor
“Living as if you are dying” can sharpen your attention on the things that matter most: your practice philosophy, your patient’s experience, the ethical treatment of those patients, and, ultimately, the legacy you want to leave when you sell your practice or retire.
If the idea of death is too heavy, just think about how you want to be remembered at the end of your professional career. How do you want your patients, employees, and community to remember you when you’ve hung up your white coat and set off into the sunset?
Like the Stoics, the samurais always kept the end in mind. Their warrior code commanded that “the way of the warrior is death” (Hagakure). The samurai were not a death cult, however, they believed by constantly being aware of the inevitable death, the samurai would be free to fulfill his ultimate duty as a warrior.
- As a doctor, what is your duty? How would you like to be remembered?
Thinking about how your career or practice will look and feel when it’s behind you can help sharpen your goals and fulfill these duties rather than wasting time on needless matters or waiting until tomorrow to achieve your greatness.
If you’re inspired to build your legacy as a doctor, but need counsel on buttoning up the legal side of things along the way, feel free to reach out — I’m a phone call away.