Reading Your Own Obituary


When Ludvig died, the French newspapers got it wrong. It was understandable. There were eight children in the famous family. Oil, patents in chemistry, and government contracts had left the older brothers some of the wealthiest men in Europe.

The French newspapers called him a “merchant of death” in the obituary. They condemned his life’s work, calling his invention an instrument to “mutilate and kill.”

As he read the words in the newspaper, he thought about his life. His sole motivation for the invention had been safety. Early in his life, a brother had died in a factory incident handling nitroglycerine. That day, he’d dedicated his life to making a safer alternative, one he’d call dynamite. Dynamite would go on to allow the safe construction of bridges, tunnels and pipelines across the world.

When he finished reading the obituary, he saw the world differently. In his will, he gifted his vast estate to the creation of prizes. Prizes that would inspire generations toward advances in peace, literature, medicine, chemistry and physics.

His name was Alfred Nobel and he had the rare opportunity to read his obituary, resulting in the prizes named after him.

What would your obituary say in the morning paper?

What would it inspire you towards?

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