About My Friend’s Obituary

Two days ago I received this email from an associate who is a consultant and coach. His name is Coach Bru. I read his newsletter faithfully because I trust, respect and constantly learn from him. I was struck this week by the subject line of the email. It was obituary-style including the date of his death in the distant future. I was shocked! I quickly clicked and read the following note which was so relevant that I immediately asked him if I could share with my readers.

Enjoy the following article from John Brubaker:

Relax, I’m still here. I hope I have your attention though because you need to read my obituary below and hear what I’m about to share with you. I’m sending this to you from New Jersey as I just finished speaking at Fairleigh Dickinson University. On Friday night I gave the football and lacrosse teams motivational talks. Then Saturday I keynoted a University Alumni Event. My message to them also applies to you.

Do you think about what you think about? And furthermore do you write it down? If your answers were no, I’m about to give you several compelling reasons to start becoming more intentional about the thoughts flying through that head of yours.coach bru

A psychologist once told me we have approximately 16,000 thoughts a day and 75% of them are negative. When I heard that I said to myself “it’s time I start thinking about what I think about!” Why? Because your thoughts subliminally advertise success or failure to you. People may be born into circumstances they cannot control however as they grow older they can change their circumstances. For example: It is not a poor person’s fault that they’re born into poverty, but it is their fault if they stay poor. It is not a child’s fault if they’re raised in an abusive household; it is their fault if they choose to enter into abusive relationships in adulthood.

Your thoughts are largely influenced by the examples set for you and more importantly examples that you set for yourself. Think about the role models and mentors you have. I’m going to encourage you to be more intentional and careful about who you model yourself after and what you think about. Here’s why…

Do you know how martial arts expert and actor Bruce Lee died? He died on the set of a movie he was filming. His son Brandon Lee idolized his dad and wanted to grow up and be just like him. (Be careful what you wish for) How did Brandon Lee die? He was shot and killed on the set of the movie The Crow which he was filming. He was roughly the same age as his father at the time of his death.

Actor/Comedian Chris Farley worshiped John Belushi and used to sit backstage on the set of Saturday Night Live admiring him. He modeled his appearance, delivery and just about every aspect of his comedic style after Belushi. In 1982 John Belushi died at age 33 in a hotel room from a cocaine overdose. 15 years later, after landing a spot on Saturday Night Live himself, Chris Farley died from a cocaine overdose at age 33 in a hotel room.

Elvis was practically obsessed with his mother Gladys and called her every single day. She died young, in her early forties from a heart attack. Elvis died 19 years later in his early forties from, you guessed it, a heart attack.

Your environment and who you model yourself after is beyond important as there can be life threatening consequences. How do you want to live and how do you want to be remembered? The only way to improve your life is to think about what you think about. Change your beliefs and thoughts to start subliminally advertising success to yourself.

One of the ways you can “subliminally advertise” to yourself is to write your own obituary. In 1992, when I was a graduate student at FDU one of my mentors, Dr. Paul Strauss, gave our class a homework assignment; to write our own obituary. I went back through my old notes and found it. Here is how mine read.

John Brubaker died at age 101 of natural causes in his Maui home shortly after Willard Scott’s replacement announced John’s birthday on the Today Show. He was surrounded by family and friends. An expert on the psychology of human performance, Brubaker authored several award-winning books and has been a consultant to many of America’s top organizations, athletes and executives. He also served as a professor at several Universities, even in his retirement Brubaker continued to teach and coach people to maximize their potential.

His family wrote: “John was always a loving husband and father. His integrity and enthusiasm for life were a great example and inspiration to us and everyone who came in contact with him. His friends, clients and student-athletes have all echoed the same sentiments.”

Brubaker enjoyed coaching youth lacrosse and was an active member of his community, involving himself in Rotary International and his church in his later years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

I hadn’t even remembered that I we this exercise until I returned to campus and ran into one of my former classmates, Chris Mazzarisi. It’s amazing the clarity of vision that assignment gave me. Looking back, that obituary set the trajectory for the rest of my life.

In my hotel that night, I began to cry when I realized just how remarkably similar that obituary is to how my life and career has played out to date: coach, professor, author, Rotarian, husband, father of two. They were tears of joy though because it helped me realize I had great instructors who helped me set a vision for my life and that for the past 21 years I have been growing to meet that vision I set at age 22.

Are you living in vision or circumstance?

Please think about what you think about.

NOTE from Tam:  “Subliminal advertising” is a great term for what I call visioning or pre-paving. John’s obituary written during his college days pre-paved his life. He wrote into it the aspects he wanted to experience as he went from college to family life and professional life. Only after many years had passed to he realize how closely his life matched what he’d written.

What you give attention to expands and grows. Advertise to your own subconscious  mind by taking the time to plan your future. What qualities of your personality to you want to imprint on the world? What do you want people to say about you when you’re gone? How are you hoping to leave an impression on this planet? Get started writing a beautiful ending to a life well lived and continue to think about what you think about.

Feel free to reach out to my associate John Brubaker. Call him Coach Bru and contact him at his website:  www.CoachBru.com