What Legacy Will You Leave?
On October 22nd of last year, I received a devastating phone call. My dear friend was very ill. He had pancreatic cancer and was committed to fight like crazy. It seemed unreal. Impossible really. He was the most health-conscious guy I knew. We’d go to dinner and he’d talk of doing a “cheat” if he wanted dressing on his salad for goodness sake! He worked out with a fervor. He was larger than life with a massive heart, a contagious passion, and expectations for the people around him that were often higher than they had for themselves. He commanded respect from everyone he encountered as his passion and tireless energy put him solidly by your side in the trenches, while holding on to a vision for the business that forced excellence on a large scale. He unleashed extraordinary results by bridging people’s belief in what they were capable of accomplishing.
He was never afraid to deal with what was real. I remember vividly getting trapped at a bakery with him for about 3 or 4 hours during a tornado-watch in Dallas. I had just wrapped the first session of many for his emerging leaders and he wanted to know what he should work on. He listened with a hunger for he had a hunger to be better. Always.
His ability to grow and be and bring his best was evident in the standing ovations I watched him take from the stage during a global business meeting – as hundreds and hundreds of his people – his team – leapt to their feet in wild applause as he took the stage. He made them want to be better, because he modeled being better. And so they were. And so was he.
The day after I found out my friend was ill, I wrote about perspective. Prior to that call I had spent the day running around like a crazy-person getting ready for an upcoming session. I had been a total stress-ball. Every detail so important. The stakes felt high.
It was a lesson I seemed to need to learn over-and-over again – to remember what is most important in life.
Our business deals are important. The quality of our work is important. Hitting deadlines is important. Networking is important. Negotiating is important. Everything. So important.
And yet, I asked myself that day, in the scheme of things, how important is it all? When we look at the big picture that is our life and not just this week’s insanity, what will we care about? What will we be proud of? What really matters?
On Saturday night we got word that our dear friend Greg had lost his battle with cancer and the world stopped. Unreal. Impossible.
All day yesterday I stumbled around in a bit of a fog – replaying scenes in my mind – holding his beautiful family in my heart and feeling so very, very sad and a bit lost. About 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when I grew weary of myself, we drove out to the beach. As I watched my husband and my beautiful little boy play in the waves, with the late afternoon sun dancing on the water, I was channeling Greg and again I found myself thinking …perspective. What is most important in life? This.
This moment, watching my family. This moment, feeling the sand on my feet and the sun on my face. This moment feeling the sadness in my heart that lets me know how much my friend meant to me. This moment, as I breathe in and out. This moment.
There are so many things that happen in life that are hard to wrap our heads around. Sometimes it seems brutally unfair. But what I know to be true is that Greg would have been one of the first people to call me on it if I were wallowing and feeling sorry for myself. He was a passionate man of action who never held back. He left a legacy of playing full out.
Every moment of every day we are leaving our legacy.
Last night we found a wonderful little restaurant near the beach, and as we sipped our ice cold beverages looking out over the water as the sun was setting I wished aloud that Greg and his family were with us. He would have loved it there. He would have behaved all day long and worked out extra hard that morning so he could “cheat” at dinner and he would have savored every bite.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014