Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, had a rude awakening when in 1888 a French newspaper, printed his obituary. Thinking that Alfred had died, instead of his brother, the premature obituary was headed, ‘The Merchant of Death is Dead’ (Le marchand de la mort est mort”).
Alfred Nobel was shocked, not only to read his own obituary but to learn that he would be remembered in such a negative and destructive way.
So in his will he ordered that his considerable estate be invested and that the interest be awarded each year as prizes “to those persons who during the previous year have rendered the greatest services to mankind.”
Alfred Nobel’s story reminds us of the importance of re-evaluating our lives as we go on everyday. We are not all going to get the chance to have our fake obituary published before we die to remind us to do something meaningful for the world.
Thinking about your legacy can be one of the most potent tools for reawakening and living an extraordinary life. Even though Alfred Nobel invented the dynamite, we mostly remember him today for The Nobel Prize. As the late Steve Jobs puts it: ‘For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something”.