On my office wall I have framed photos of three men.  If I asked you what they have in common I anticipate I would get many different answers but, for me, there is only one answer.

wall photo

Each, in his own way, despite significant personal tragedy and unimaginable public pressure and emotional stress understood the importance of MAKING THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING.

And this, dear reader, is the single reason so many of us mere mortals find it almost impossible to refuse distractions and remain stalwart in the face of resistance, resolute under pressure and persevere for long periods of time toward our goals.  We have no real idea what THE MAIN THING is. We hear a lot about someone else’s main thing but we don’t have a strong enough hold on our main thing that we end up getting caught up in theirs.  Or we are wise enough to recognize it is not ours so we do nothing.  We function on someone else’s agenda or none at all.  So, we go to default futures:

We Work In Our Business Claiming We Are Too Busy To Work On Our Business.

I am in my 34th year of commitment to the DeathCare profession and the 42nd year of my career.  Like my heroes (but not to the unimaginable degree they suffered) I have experienced much of what they did.  As I know many of you have.  It has shaped me.  I am grateful not bitter. If nothing else it has built my faith. Like many of you, it has prepared me for such a time as this.  There have been times where I had no main thing and times, like now, that I did.  Age gives perspective.  I see the purpose in both times now.

DeathCare continues it long, accelerating decline.  We (I) have obsessed about what is changing.  But we have forgotten to take into consideration what is NOT changing.  People will continue to die. Survivors will continue to have a need to reconcile that death emotionally and to honor the life of those they have lost.  I was reminded in the movie “Lincoln” that it was Euclid that first used the phrase: “self-evident”.  I would suggest that these things are self-evident.

If you are an owner or a general manager, partner…whatever… you have a moral obligation to yourself, to your staff, to the legal entity you lead and, most of all, to the public you serve to MAKE THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING.


I would prefer to have you think this out for yourself.  But I have a moral obligation to at least help you get started…and it isn’t THE STUFF WE SELL.  You don’t need to get into pet cremation or doodads and for all that is holy you need to get your nose out of the selection room if you still have one of those things.

No, depending on your circumstances, I see only two choices. 

I didn’t sign up to oversee the demise of a profession. I am annoyed at the thought I might have to and I am betting that many of you are as well.

Given the state of the business, many of you are tired or approaching retirement or both.  You love this business but you also know in your heart that what faces us may be a young man’s game.  (I don’t think it is but it certainly is going to take time and energy and RISK).  For you the main thing is to guide your firm, your family and staff into safe harbor by finding the right exit strategy.  There is no shame in that.  In fact, if we can take the recent Aurora sale as an example, it takes a good deal of courage and caring to lead that kind of initiative. I have been helping many do just that.  I don’t broker.  I don’t believe a broker is necessary in most cases.  Most of you are smarter than you think.  You and your advisors just need some good coaching and guidance.  So, I can help you, but that is not where my heart is.

The second choice is to make a deliberate commitment to GET IN DEEPER.  That isn’t just going to take reinvention it is going to take transformation. It will take work, risk and an open mind.  It will require laying to rest some sacred cows and building some new paradigms.  But based on what I am discovering among those who have found those new paradigms, I believe you will find new meaning in your work and even joy in your life.

What would it be like:

  • to look forward to going to work for a change?
  • What would it be like to not see that “phone shopper on line one” as a challenge but an opportunity to make a difference in someones life?
  • What would it be like to have people in your local community not just say “that’s the funeral director” but “That’s MY funeral director”?
  • What would it be like for price to be irrelevant in the context of choosing a caregiver?

If we can make all that happen…and I believe we can because I have seen it…the money will follow.  But when it happens the richness of your career will overshadow the money.  I promise.  Am I blowing smoke?

Wait and see.  Stay tuned.

Remember your two options:

Get you, your family and your firm to safe harbor

Get back in the game.  Have fun, find meaning, help people and reclaim your future.

It may be darkest before the dawn but that only means it is the start of a fresh new day