Alfred Nobel is widely known as the founder of the Nobel Prizes, which are awarded for excellence in the fields of physical science, chemistry, medical science, literature, and the promotion of peace. But that’s not even close to what he was known for while he was alive.
Nobel was a chemist and the inventor of dynamite. He was also an iron and steel producer, and by his death had established 90 armaments factories, despite his belief in pacifism. He made much of his massive fortune investing in oil fields developed by his brothers.
Nobel’s brother Ludvig died in 1888, and a French newspaper erroneously published an obituary for Alfred Nobel which began, “The merchant of death is dead.” It continued, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
This was a turning point for Nobel, who realized that this is how he would be remembered. Hoping to change his legacy, he wrote a will with the directive that 94% of his assets should go to establish and fund the Nobel Prizes.
Jim Stovall, in a recent Forbes article titled “Start With Your Obituary,” tells the story of Alfred Nobel and makes an insightful connection between how we choose to live and how we will be remembered. He points out that we are writing our own obituary every day, and if we don’t like what is written there, then we can make the choice to change it.
Stovall ends his article with the advice: “Stake your territory, make your claim, and begin writing your own obituary now while you can still make a difference.”
Every day is life. Every day we are writing our true obituary with the words and actions that we will be remembered for. Our life becomes our legacy, one day at a time.
Your life is your obituary.
And it’s not too late to change your story.