The Point: Today marks the nine year anniversary of my Father’s passing. It seems like just yesterday… And in another sense, it seems like forever ago! My Father is responsible for making me the man I am today (Son to my Mother, Brother to my Sister, Husband to my Wife, and Father myself to my own Children). So in order to honor his legacy, I wanted to share with you five (5) legacy lessons that he espoused to me… Enjoy!
What’s a Legacy Anyway?
Why do you do what you do? How is what you’re doing today going to benefit others tomorrow? If you’re a deep-thinker or ever bumped your head against your own mortality, you’ve probably asked these questions of yourself. Depending upon your answers (and it’s a self-assessment, so honesty counts!), you’ve probably maintained or course corrected your personal/professional direction.
So the legacy you leave behind basically is what you want others to remember you for. What was it that you stood for? What will they remember you for when it’s all said and done and you’re no longer present? And perhaps most important, will anyone even notice if you’re gone? If you contemplate life’s legacy moments as such, then the following tips represent moments shared with me by my Father. While they may/may not be appropriate for you given your station in life, no doubt there is something that may resonate for all so that you are not only remembered after you have departed, but missed as well!
Tip #1 – It’s Up To You!
The great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said it, and my Father reinforced it in me. Whether you’re having a good day (Why are you settling for “good” when “great” is available? A topic for another day…) or a not-so-good day, it’s up to you to identify and either accept or change it. It’s up to you!
Tip #2 – What Are You Thinking?
Action without thought leads to disastrous outcomes regardless of age. My Father asked repeatedly (perhaps because of my pension for trouble) what exactly I was thinking that caused me to do what it was that I had done. While not coming from the perspective to gain understanding, so much as to teach me to NOT repeat similar choices. When my Father spoke, I listened… This thought-message was sent/received.
Tip #3 – Keep Your Eye On The Ball
My Father was also my Little League baseball coach. While the legacy lesson may appear to be focused solely on that sport, it actually applied to everything in life. From his perspective, detail and attention therein was perceived crucial for a successful outcome. So keep your eye on the “ball” could easily mean “business” or “relationship with your wife” or everything else as was intended. Think of it as limitless attention to detail and you’ve got it!
Tip #4 – Work is Sh!t
My Father was never big on believing that his work defined him as a person, and more importantly his significance in life. Instead, work was a means to an end for him. I remember telling him repeatedly that he was wrong, and that if you truly do what you love you never work a day in your life (I think Jim Rohn said that or something akin to?) My Father encouraged me to go in that “love” instead of “sh!t” direction then, but to buckle-back with him to tell how that worked out.
Tip #5 – It’s All Right
My Fathers final conversation came as he was in a nursing home after suffering a series of heart attack/stroke combinations (2, 3, 4… Who knows? The doctors could never give us definitive quantity). Throw on top of that deadly series of heart attacks/strokes a severe case of dementia and you’ve got nothing… No comprehension… No reaction to pain… No Father that I grew up knowing and loving. He was simply a shell of a man, hollow inside and an exterior that was far from who I knew/loved/idolized. However, it was in just this state that while eating breakfast one morning he extended his hand, placed it on top of mine, told me “It’s all right” and tapped my hand three times as he had done a thousand times before. He passed within 12 hours of that limited conversation, so it was the last time I ever heard his voice.
I have cried a thousand tears for my Father since his passing (I’m crying now as I write this!) My hope is in sharing these five legacy lessons learned from him that you are able to live the life you deserve and leave behind a legacy worthy of you/your efforts.