Life is not a Practice Session

"We all die. The goal is not to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

 What does legacy mean to you?

To me, it means leaving an impression or a memory that lingers long after a person is gone.

Recently, my son and I were having dinner after hitting some golf balls on the driving range. As we sat in the clubhouse, my son then asked me about my grandmother, who died in 1998. Immediately, I was hit with a flood of emotion. I began to stare off into space, and my eyes began to water.

What caused this in me?

It was the legacy that my grandmother left in my life, the impression that is still imprinted on my heart.

When I visit my hometown, I can mention my grandmother’s name, and people will say, “Oh, what a great woman.” She not only left a lasting impression on me but on the lives of many others as well.

My grandmother created a legacy that has outlived her.

Legacy is not something you can give yourself. It is bestowed on you by others whose lives you have touched. However, legacy can be created through intentional effort and intentional leadership.

In his book, Aspire, Kevin Hall shares a study performed by a behavioral scientist. In the study, Dr. Gerald Bell asked a group of retired leaders what they would do differently if they could live their lives over again.

The number one answer was: “I should have taken charge of my life and set goals earlier. Life isn’t practice, it is the real thing.”

You see, when we begin to draw closer to the end of our time here on earth, we begin to think differently. We begin to look back and think of all the things we should have done and the people whose lives we should have touched. We begin to think about our legacy.

Other answers in the study included, “I should have spent more time with those who matter most.”

And, “I should have spent more time on personal growth.”

Those sound like legacy answers to me. Fred Allen said, “You only live once. But if you work it right, once is enough.”

As a leader, your legacy is being developed every day and with every interaction - with the people on your team, in your home, and in the community.

My question to you is this: Is the legacy you are creating the one you want to leave?

Now, I don’t think my grandmother was a woman who sat around and thought about her legacy, but I do know this: she spent her days – every day – seeking to serve others in some way. It did not just happen. She served intentionally! And as a result, her legacy lives on in my memory and in the memories of others.

LeadUp Challenge

What are you doing with intentional effort every day that will have a lasting impact?

Is it leaving the impression you want to leave?

What can you do today to begin to create the leadership style and service to others that will be remembered long after you are gone?

“People will not remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou


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