This past week was a particularly hectic week for me. Two significant events happened that profoundly impacted my perspective.

First, my first grandchild had her first birthday. It’s hard to believe that this precious little life has been with us for a year. About 30 friends and relatives gathered together to celebrate her life – and she was clueless as to what was happening. Her other grandfather and grandmother flew in to LA from Chicago to be apart of this landmark event.

The second event of the week was just the opposite. My wife’s 98-year-old mother passed away. It’s hard to believe that this precious life is gone. Friends and relatives are gathering together to celebrate her life, and many are flying in from far away places to be at this landmark event.

The impact of two profound events: birth and death

Here’s how both events impacted my perspective:

First, I was impressed at the impact that both of these lives had on the people around them. People changed their plans, altered their schedules, and rearranged priorities to come together to celebrate these two dear people. The reason – both are dearly loved. Love is a powerful force with which to be reckoned. Love moves us to change our life trajectories without a thought. Love compels us to shift our values. Love informs our behaviors. Love defines life and death in a way that is impacting. People didn’t care about the accolades that each of these lives acquired, they were stirred because they loved and were loved by these precious people.

Second, I was surprised by the ripple effect that both events had on the lives of others. People became more gracious, understanding, and accommodating. It’s amazing how stern, rigid people can choose to become more caring. Others rise to the occasion, allowing themselves to be inconvenienced by working harder, covering shifts, etc. I watched this played out as my wife’s family made funeral arrangements. So many family members heard their bosses respond with, “Do whatever you need to do.” Others responded by going out of their way to accommodate family needs. I also saw this with my granddaughter’s birthday. During the party I got a fairly urgent phone call from one of the guys I mentor. He asked if I could chat and I responded affirmatively. But when he found out what I was doing he immediately concluded that his issue was not as urgent as he thought and arranged to talk another time.

Third, I was humbled and inspired by a sense of legacy. I was charged with the task of putting together a media presentation on my mother-in-law’s life. You should know that she spent 32 years in Africa as a missionary in a pioneering era in Zimbabwe. She was a nurse who brought the only medical assistance into the remotest villages in that region. She raised her own children in a mud hut; chose to forego comforts of life like electricity and refrigeration; and, learned to protect her family from leopards, cobras, and other dangers. But what I saw as I put together this media presentation was that legacy didn’t lie in what she did – it was in the lives she impacted. I received pictures of her in loving interactions with everyone of her 5 children and their spouses, her 12 grandchildren and their spouses, and her 15 great-grand children.

“We can tell how well we’ve lived by how much hope we’ve left behind.”

– Bob Goff

Looking ahead

After working on the media presentation for my mother-in-law for a while, I looked at my precious little granddaughter and commented, “I can hardly remember what life was like without you.”

Though very young, her sweet personality has already begun to take shape and her little life has already begun to shape the people around her.

Amazingly, the foundations of her legacy are already being laid.

These two lives illustrate a powerful truth about legacy: legacy is based in who we are rather than what we do.

I constantly ask the men I mentor, “How do you want people to remember you?”

“How do you want to be remembered?” – Click to Tweet

This is a question of legacy. My granddaughter has impacted our lives with her life. She has a lifetime to shape her legacy. My mother-in-law also impacted our lives with her life. She had a lifetime to leave a spectacular legacy in the lives of four generations (and more to come) just because of who she was.

Its never too late to think on and shape your legacy.

Your life impacts the lives of others, but the lasting effect of that impact (legacy) will be rooted in who you are.

You started leaving a legacy a long time ago – but your opportunity to shape your impact remains.

Choose to make the most of it!


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