The Man Who Changed His Life After Reading His Obituary

One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, the man who had spent his life amassing a fortune from the manufacture and sale of weapons, awoke to read his own obituary.

The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error. Alfred’s brother had died, and a French reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him – “the dynamite King (the weapon maker),” the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives.

This – as far as the general public was concerned – was the entire purpose of his life (so said the obituary). None of his true intentions – to break down the barriers that separated men and ideas – were recognized or given serious consideration.

He was quite simply in the eyes of the public a merchant of death, and for that alone he would be remembered…

As he read his obituary with shocking horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the disposition of his fortune. His last will and testament would be the expression of his life’s ideas…And the result was the most valued of prizes given to this day to those who have done most for the cause of world peace – the Nobel Peace Prize.

That caught my eye because I at times wonder how it would read if my obituary suddenly appeared. And I ask you to entertain that frightful thought for a moment.

What is your life known for?

What will you be remembered for?