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LegacyLeave A Timeless Legacy: Your finest Hour Is Yet To Be!

The Great Question

The graying, tall, statuesque man gazed out his picture window. He stood behind his huge walnut desk, his fingers drumming aimlessly along the buttons on his chair; both symbols of the power of his office - an office he leaves this day, forever. The air was filled with the sounds of scurrying people and moving furniture - yet he was oblivious to it all, immersed a light year away in his own thoughts.

He turned abruptly, catching us off guard, and blurted out, "How do you think I'll be remembered?"

Before we could muster the words in response, he slumped down in the chair, heaved a big sigh, and said softly, "Oh, never mind. I can't do much about it now anyway."

Here's a man who sat at the pinnacle of almost absolute power. He commanded the stage, parried and thrust with the best of them, and won more than his share of the engagements. And, here he is, in his waning moments, worrying about the legacy he is leaving. He was a great man. We were privileged to have worked with him. He did many things for the people he served. Yet, despite the power he commanded, he shares the common human concern of measuring the footprints he leaves behind. All of us have but a moment on the stage. All of us ask his eternal question, "And how will they remember me?"

Endings Are Really Beginnings In Disguise

Look closely: endings are beginnings in disguise. Note, endings are not really endings. Our friend leaves the big office and the big desk behind. No more private planes and fawning minions hanging on his every word. Is it really over for him? No! Endings are really beginnings, part of the eternal cycle of life. The sun sets every evening, only to rise again next morning more beautiful that ever. The dankness of winter is but a necessary step towards the freshness of spring. The natural cycle teaches us that endings are merely beginnings in disguise.

President Carter - The Quintessential Renewer

Look at President Jimmy Carter. He was one of the long strings of one-term Presidents in the later half of the 20th century. Historians generally agree that he was not a strong president: barely defeating our only non-elected President, presiding over one of the worst periods of stagflation in US economic history, ordering the embarrassing helicopter rescue attempt of American hostages in Iran, and then losing soundly to Ronald Reagan.

He could have crept back to his home in Georgia, nursed his wounds, grown his peanuts and faded from view. Instead, he followed his heart and his values, renewing himself as a great humanitarian and peacemaker. His work with Habitat For Humanity, building homes for the homeless, and bringing peace to several troubled parts of the world, will likely write his name in large letters in the history books - much larger than his record as President might merit. Through renewal, the ending of his presidency was the beginning of his glory. You also can renew yourself, as President Carter did, and snare the golden ring.

Fire Up Those Learnin' Machines

People are powerful and wonderful "learnin' machines," ever pushing the boundaries of their own comfort zone, hungry for more and more opportunities to demonstrate their mastery. Expect, measure and reward that learning to feed that wonderful horn-of-plenty-creating machine.

Learn to love learning and growing. Ask people about their best experiences or happiest times and it inevitably involves learning and growing. A banker friend of ours told us about a craft class he took with his teen-age son last winter. He said, "Been wanting to learn how to blacksmith for years. This was a great opportunity for me to finally do it. Likely won't earn a dime more at the bank, but the time with my son was priceless. We're going back next year to learn wood carving together." He came to learn, along with the 3,000 other folks. He's a better person for having learned - and he's a better banker, parent and friend as a result.

Leave a legacy of learning individuals who will carry on your tradition.

Establish Heart Connections

[Illustration]What makes young men and women risk their lives charging an enemy machine gun nest? What gets people to work crazy hours to meet a customer's design deadline? What gets people to re-design an entire show in 60 hours? Is it money? Can't be. They can't pay you enough to die. Is it power? What kind of power can you exercise looking up at the daisies? Is it the thrill? Not much thrill in a hospital bed. The answer's amazingly simple. It's heart.

"Come on, give me a break," you're likely saying to yourself. "What do you mean by heart? Is this some kind of Wizard of Oz double-talk -- like the Tin Man asking for a heart?"

Heart Matters More Than Generals And Flags

Sort of. At the end of the day the army is effective because the people really care about their platoon-mates. Soldiers risk their lives in battle because of their commitment to the person on their left, the person on their right, the rest of the people in their platoon and their platoon leader. Military orders can't command the courage to take out the machine gun nest in the face of blazing gunfire, or the courage to hover your helicopter behind enemy lines to rescue a downed flier. Rules and regulations can't compel people to sacrifice their lives. The willingness to give it all - whether it's time or energy or your life - comes from the heart connection among people. We work, live and die for other people.

We could go on and on. We hope the message is clear: you leave a timeless legacy when you continually renew yourself by firing up those human learnin' machines and establishing heart connections with others. Your finest hour is yet to be. Let's get on with it.

Phoenix Workshop

Use the following form to have Jim Belasco and Jerre Stead help you internalize these principles.

Do you want to be remembered? What will your legacy be?

What can you do today to make that legacy come true?

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[PDF Format Biography]

 

Copyright 2001-2009, Dr. James A. Belasco, Ph.D.

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