What Type of Legacy are you Leaving

My uncle passed away last week. I attended his funeral and had the privilege of listening to the eulogy delivered by his son-in-law. It got me thinking….what kind of legacy will I leave behind?

One of the catalysts for me starting volunteer work was this simple reason – leaving a legacy for my children. There’s an older, but still, a fantastic movie called My Life, where Michael Keaton plays a guy who has terminal cancer (1993).

His wife’s pregnant and he decides to videotape himself (make a documentary) so his unborn child can know his father. It’s really an amazing movie.  It puts life into perspective and I highly suggest watching it.

At the very least it reminds us that life is short and we all have it pretty good, as long as we’re breathing. I plan on writing a lot about this topic and this is the first installment.

Some thoughts on what I want to leave behind….

Join a great cause…better yet, start a great cause.  Donate your time. Volunteer if you can. Give generously to others…both financially and personally. Be there for your family. For your friends. For your community. Ask people how they’re doing, and mean it.

Put your phone down at your kid’s soccer game. Turn the TV off. Talk more. Listen first. Read books…and read some fiction every once in a while. Walk more. Call your parents. Close your eyes and really pay attention to your breath. Turn the radio off in your car. Grab a great workout, one where you can barely move at the end because you’ve worked so hard, and do it early in the day….it will make the rest of the day amazing.

Don’t take a job solely for the money. Find your passion. Don’t settle. Call a friend you haven’t seen in years, just because. Email an old friend on facebook (or whatever technology is around) and just see how they’re doing and to say hi. You probably just accepted their friend request and never really interacted. Better yet, write them a hand-written letter.

Wake up early and do nothing. Drink wine, but not too much. Break bread with loved ones, friends, colleagues, clients – it’s the best way to share conversation.  Say thank you whenever you can. Write your family a note before you leave for a trip (and hide it somewhere so they find it later in the day). Get mad if you lose at something, but not too mad. If you disagree with what someone says, speak up, albeit respectfully.

Stand up to a bully. Clean out your closet and donate the clothes you don’t wear. Don’t give a homeless person money, buy them lunch. Travel. Dance, and not just at weddings. Smile. Even if you have to force yourself to. Learn to say sorry, and mean it. Learn to play an instrument – no matter your age. Know that experiences trump stuff….every time.

Go see more live events – concerts, sports, etc. Buy fresh flowers for your house….better yet, grow your own. Learn something new….and then pass it on. Be a leader, even if it’s not in your title. Try to go a whole week without saying one negative thing, then try a whole month. Look who around you might need your help.

Don’t be so hard on yourself – we all have our struggles – that’s what makes us who we are. Love, even when it’s hard to. When you fail, get back up…failure builds character. Surround yourself with positive people. Embrace naysayers, especially when you’re doing something different. Always, I mean always, be humble.