Have you ever thought that you have not done much with your life? During a recent conversation with a very dear friend, she expressed this very same sentiment. I was astounded that this energetic, high family and work ethic person had this negative self-image, but pleased that she felt comfortable sharing this thought.
Quickly, I began to ask her questions about all of the “Legacies” that she had left in this world during the last 60 plus years. Since her retirement, she relocated to be near her daughters, grandchildren and in-laws to support them. This support included taking her grandchildren to necessary school functions, being there for them after school while still being actively involved in her church and local civic organizations. Her high values, unselfish and positive attitudes to overcome life’s challenges became a rock for her family and friends. As we continued to talk, she expressed several times how I made her feel much better. Her honesty provided me with the opportunity to return one of the many legacies that she had shared with me during our 30 plus year friendship.
After our conversation ended, I began to wonder why someone with such incredible gifts and who had personally left countless individual legacies with so many people had such feelings of inadequacy?
Possibly, the presence of the media from local newspapers to television to the Internet may contribute to the development of these feelings. When we hear and see the success of others who have reached high positions whether in business or government, we may start comparing our accomplishments with these high profile media persons. Unfortunately what happens is that many of our “average” citizens fail to understand that it is these average citizens who are the backbone of this country and without their legacies we would not be the country that we are. Plato recognized the importance of citizens over 2000 years ago when he wrote, “ This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are.”
Each of us lives a legacy, not when we are gone from this earth, but when we are here. Our legacy may be something as simple as a smile to a complete stranger to taking the time to help a friend or co-worker through a difficult situation.
Just imagine what the world could be like if everyone looked at every interaction as an opportunity to leave a legacy? What would happen to your personal relationships if you intentionally acted with the desired end result to make each and every interchange one in which you left a legacy that the other person could build upon and then later share with another? Or how about at work? What additional heights could your team reach and how much stronger would your organization be by such “Legacy Leaving Actions”?
With the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the fourth anniversary of 9/11 on the horizon, the American public is being reminded of the importance of legacies. Citizens both private and corporate across the country are demonstrating “Legacy Leaving Actions” by donating their time and resources to help those affected by this natural disaster. Through the stories of those who survived 9/11 and those who didn’t, again, American citizens can hear and even see how they, average American citizens, left legacies during that fateful day which changed our country forever.
Legacies are intentional societal choices that we make every day. By being aware of these choices, makes us better citizens, better parents, better friends and ultimately makes for a better world for our children and the next generation. So as you venture forth today or tomorrow, ask yourself “Where can I leave my legacy?” and “How will that legacy benefit another citizen?”
Copyright 2005(c) Leanne Hoagland-Smith, www.processspecialist.com
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