Leaving a legacy: What happens to your focus when you read your own obituary in the newspaper

Scott MautzIn his new book, Make it Matter, Scott Mautz shares the sobering but true story of the man who invented dynamite — a Swedish chemist named Alfred, who made a fortune off his invention. While used mostly for demolition and mining, military organizations quickly began to use it as a brutal weapon in warfare. “In 1889, his brother Ludwig was killed, ironically, in one of Alfred’s dynamite factories. A local newspaper writer got his facts mixed up and believing that it was Alfred that had died, not Ludwig, he wrote an obituary about the wrong man. Alfred woke up one morning and stared at the newspaper with a truly astonishing realization – he was about to read his own obituary. And so he did.

Only he didn’t like what he read.

The paper called him “The Merchant of Death”, referring to the fortune he made off of the misfortune of those that were victimized by the weapons he had created. Alfred realized with painful clarity the legacy he was careening towards, and it exasperated him.

He knew he had reached a pivotal moment in his life. He had to change the course of what he’d be remembered for.

From that point forward he dedicated his time and considerable fortune to honor and advance acts that benefitted, not obliterated, humanity.

And thus, Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Peace Prize.Make It Matter

Alfred had the rarest of opportunities, the chance to see what he’d actually be remembered for while still living. He had a chance to rewrite how his life story would read, and he seized it.”

Scott joined me on my podcast this week and shared the above story. He then offered 5 practical ways anyone can create a meaningful legacy in their own life. Listen to the podcast below to hear those five ways, which starts at 5:20 into the show.

You can find all of this and more in Scott’s new book, Make It Matter. Adapted here with permission.

You can learn more about Scott, his book, and hiring him for speaking engagements at www.scottmautz.com.

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3 Responses

  1. Yes! Here’s to leaving a positive legacy. And I had not previously known the story behind how the Nobel Peace Prize was named! And here’s to the little things we do that make an impact each and every day.

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