What will your Legacy be?
Having just begun my 62nd lap around the sun I often take time to think about all of the things, positive and challenging, that I have had the opportunity to experience and participate in during my life. The list is long and for most of you the detail would be extremely boring. More now than before I reflect upon what my legacy is, has been and will be as I move ahead. Those of you who really know me understand that I am a “cause” person and the examples of my work to move a cause forward is long and hopefully meaningful for some. Let me share a little more today about what I see as a legacy and also dive into where I hope my legacy, my impact, will be felt.
The word legacy has multiple definitions. I first came across this word when I explored joining a college fraternity over 40 years ago. Because my brother had been a member of a given fraternity, I became a legacy for that group. I chose to join a different fraternity, Sigma Chi, and that has now marked my sons and grandsons as legacies to me there. While this type of legacy is important, the type of legacy I will talk about today is how my work, my effort now will impact those who follow me in the future. There are several areas where I am attempting to leave that legacy and I’ll share them here.
Originally trained as an engineer, I have a real interest in promoting science and technology to others. My ability to understand technology and solve problems, coupled with my interest in working with others has allowed me to do many really fun things in my life. I started as more of a technical guy who then trained others in technical areas and then became more of a trainer and coach today. The impact of technology will never leave me and that is why I spend time with organizations like the ACE Mentor program. ACE promotes architecture, engineering and construction to young people across the country. I have been involved with ACE as a parent of an ACE student, a board member, a board chair and also as a donor. I have seen many young men and women come “full circle” meaning they were participants in high school, achieved a degree in one of these disciplines in college and then returned to work in that field and also mentor current students. If their work is not leaving a legacy then I don’t know what is.
Another legacy I feel fortunate to have helped with is the YMCA. Almost 30 years ago I became an interested party in bringing the Y to my community. Over a 6 year period this evolved rather quickly to a role as the first board chair, the first director and then a VP role with the corporate office of the Y. The most important thing is that this YMCA still exists in that community and makes a difference each day in the lives of thousands of people I don’t know and will probably never meet. I was so blessed to be in that place at that time with a committed group of volunteers to make this happen. That too is a part of my legacy.
The next legacy I work on daily is helping my sons become better fathers. I try not to be an invasive helper, but I do try to listen and offer advice when called upon. I have often shared with them that I had no one to gain this insight from because my father passed away when I was 23. With sons who are now both 30 and older, they have the benefit (I hope) of my perspective and my experience when they ask for it.
Leaving a legacy is something we each are doing every day. In many cases we will not even realize we are doing this. My encouragement to you is to be aware of the impact you are leaving and how you can make that impact better for those who will come after you. This can be done not only in your personal life, but also in your professional life. I’ll talk more about that next week.