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Saturday, July 07, 2007

I want to leave a legacy

Simulpost with TechLearning

I want to leave a legacy
how will they remember me?

This song by Nicole Nordeman has the question that I ponder today as we bury one of the inspirations of my life, my grandmother.

In order to be effective where we are today, it is vital that sometimes we back up and observe ourselves from afar -- "How will they remember me?"

  • Was I a good listener? (or a self absorbed know it all?)
  • Was I helpful? (or did I make people feel helpless?)
  • Did I use the power I do have for good? (or just to serve my own ends?)
  • Did I find talent in others and help them on their path? (or did I just care about my own recognition)
  • Did I inspire others?

It is important that we look at what we do and rethink how we will be remembered. There are some teachers that propelled me on to greatness and there are some that were unkind and labeled me, and I used them as the angry focus of my determination to succeed.

I now live in the hometown where I grew up and there are some people that I look at and remember the birthday party in sixth grade where they invited everyone but me. (And I have to work with the parent that let them do it.) Praise is great but sometimes the wounds go deeper.

I will tell you what I have learned from my Granny:

  • Life is too short to intentionally make enemies.

    Get rid of enemies by making them friends, and if you cannot, know that if they talk about you, that means you're doing something -- you cannot please everyone all of the time.

  • Do not let popularity be your greatest aim.

    Popularity is often tied to how much money you have or other functions of power. The greatest men and women in history were often not popular people but they got the job done. My grandmother lived both a life of extreme poverty and extreme wealth and knew the difference in how she was treated. My husband often says that he had the most friends when he owned a boat. For me, it is about doing what is right, telling the truth, and speaking out when it is important and butting out when it is not. (And having the wisdom to know the difference.)

  • Relax and take pressure off yourself.

    "Sometimes you've got to let the rough end drag." she would always say. Each May that becomes my Mantra. Perfectionists tend to be way too hard on themselves and others, and when times are tough, just do the best you can and that is good enough.

  • Obstacles make a great story.

    When meeting with obstacles, she always said "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition." My grandmother was an overcomer of obstacles. She was a very smart lady, but when her brother became deaf and needed to go to a special school for the deaf, she opted to go to work to pay his tuition after high school. She struggled to hold onto the family farm, and then built it into one of the nicest real estate developments in Birmingham self-educating herself and learning the real estate business and getting licensing -- all without a college education. She did her own tax returns until she was 82 including all of the trusts and complex legal arrangements and land holdings. Obstacles never stopped her, she saw them as a great story waiting to be born.

  • Let love be your greatest aim.

    It was her life.

There are so many more things that she taught me, but as I wait to be picked up to go to the cemetery and sing at her graveside "It is Well with my soul" I know this -- she has left a legacy of love and goodness in my life.

So, as I blog, I see each post as a remnant of legacy to be left behind for my own children. I want to inspire them to overcome, be more, do right, and love each other. There are many others in the blogosphere who have this kindred feeling of leaving a legacy and it is an undeniable part of what we all do.

How will they remember you?

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