Legacy: Your Life, Your Work, Your Story

Gave a talk this week around the urgency of wellbeing and how legacy is impacted by our choices. Came away inspired to share this updated post from 2007, Legacy: Your Life, Your Work, Your Story.

audience

There probably is no greater consequence to consider than what type of legacy we leave behind.  The finality of our legacy can make you pause and contemplate the things you’ve said and done.  There’s something in us that makes us realize that we are leaving a mark on this great planet-good or bad.  And it is true that we all (rich and poor, young and old, learned and ignorant) have a legacy to account for.  It’s ironic that many don’t even give it a second thought.  Consider the words of Vaclav Havel:

“The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.”

If all there is to your work life is this quarter’s numbers or the year-end bonus, then legacy probably means little to you.  If there is no cause or great battle to fight, then you probably think all this talk about legacy is “soft.”  Because to think of legacy is to have vision, and we know vision is about seeing the unseen.  But what’s really powerful is the fact that it is seen…it’s unfolding everyday before your very eyes.  It’s a truth that everyone is shaping their legacy one day at a time.

Corporate slave traders need people who are willing, if not ignorantly, to exchange their freedom for the immediate issue at hand. See Wall Street to learn more. They need you to be fixated on concerns that can be solved in meetings and handled by committees.  They want your mind on the work…for as long as they can use you.  They want you intoxicated by that corner office and all that it means, even if it means nothing at all.  If you’re not thinking about legacy, then you are just a means to an end.  Even if you’re covered in the finest of the fine.

Here are some things to consider when making the turn to legacy:

  • Don’t expect the crowd to applaud. Rarely does this happen, and the truth is you don’t need it.  You need to make your story the best it can be, not the most popular.
  • Living a life of legacy requires you to think about eternity.  Take a look at the opening scene below from the movie Gladiator:

  • If you value freedom, remember your story is the most important one.
  • Search for someone (spouse, brother, sister, mentor, priest, colleague) who wants this life for you and let them spur you on.
  • Read Success Built To Last and be inspired by others who share your desire.

Happiness Pursuing You

roses

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love
To the dark and the endless skies

And the first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hands
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love
That was there at my command, my love

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time, my love
And it will last till the end of time, my love

The first time ever I saw your face, your face
Your face, your face

You may or may not recall the above classic, written by Ewan McColl. The lyrics are moving. I recently purchased George Michael’s Symphonica compilation. He performs a version. It is truly beautiful and it got me thinking.

What if happiness is pursuing us?

There’s no doubt in those lyrics we find someone moved and happy. I can relate. In my mind, happiness calls out saying; “hey Eric, I’m here.” Funny how in a given day we can ignore this quiet voice. We’ve arrived in a time of ignoring. Trading so much for accumulation, power and applause. Yet most say happiness is the thing missing most.

As it has been many times in my life, I’ve decided to go the other way. Tonight, I asked my wife, as the song inspired me, to recall a time when she was happy with me. We recalled times, places and feelings. I’ve been married close to 23 years and it feels like yesterday. What blows my mind, is how I found myself agreeing with George Michael’s voice in the song. I found myself repeating, “he’s right, it did, and does, feel as he describes.”

I’ve missed some things over my span. Some of those things were large and some small, but the dance of life finds me here and I now recognize the voice of happiness. Better yet, I know I need to respond to that voice. Not many things are as important.

Are you willing to let happiness pursue you?

Being Real

Being Real

In many ways being social is an open door to being real. Ever wonder why many don’t go that route? More and more, being social is an open door to being a fake.

The most prominent way of being social in 2014 is found online. We have portals like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn that are rooted in the idea of social networking. These tools give people the ability to tell their story. As you know, the motivations vary from job-hunting, PR, to show boating. Everyone has a voice.

So why aren’t we more real?

In time past (pre-social media), most of us were known by a limited audience. Usually, the span was friends, family and the people we went to school or worked with. This network usually found out about your stuff via phone or getting together in the flesh. In those situations you had a pretty small universe to shine. This probably kept us, for the most part, humble. And humility is what’s missing now.

“Marketing is a lie, so we can tell ourselves a lie, that we desperately want to believe.” – Author Unknown

Fast forward to the now and we have a completely different ball game. Now we’re obsessed by how many likes we get, how many followers we have or who’s in our network. All this for the sake of a lie. Many don’t even know it’s a lie. We’ve watered down truth so much, that we can’t tell the difference. Our endless pursuit of validation and success (defined by a culture in decline) rips apart truth, and the identity it reveals. I equate true identity to being real, no matter the cost. There is no bigger a lie than a life wearing a mask.

If you’re longing for more, then the crossroads is near to your view.

I find it amazing that the world is starving for the real and we stay fixated on the proposition. I’ve made this mistake:

  • Presenting my story the way I thought I should
  • Taking engagements because I thought it would make me more viable
  • Partnering with rock stars because I thought we stood for the same things
  • Being scared of what people might think
  • Trusting snakes disguised as angels

Being real is a risk-filled offer. After years of getting this down in my head and my heart, there is no other alternative. Risk is a very reasonable price to pay for such a pay-off as becoming the real thing. The most important part is you’ll start to venture into what lies over the sun. The activities of manipulating just to make a short-term gain, posing as someone you’re not and using people to move your needle will be exposed as a waste of time you don’t have.

Being real is the start of epic living.

 

What Big Data is Missing

What big data is missing is behavior change. Yep, good old fashioned behavior change.

I’m struck by the amount of data that companies like Google and SAP kind churn out. Even our friends at Facebook do a good job at this, though I question if it’s worth $19 billion. All of these entities, and more, are producing and analyzing data that can lead to disruptive innovation. A good thing all in all. Our world is changing rapidly because of this.

So why are we such a mess, when we have all of the data for just about anything under the sun?

Let me give you an example of what I mean. There’s tons of data confirming the dangers of distracted driving. Has there been a shift away from this type of behavior? According to the CDC, we have a problem. Do you find it ironic that we enough data to make an educated decision to not text (as one example) while driving, yet continue to do it? How about the amount of sleep we get, and don’t get. Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a sleep disorder specialist, at Winthrop University Sleep Disorders Center in New York City, suggests that Americans suffer from “sleep machismo.” Wall Street’s calling and we have to answer, be damn our mind and bodies.

So what do you do with this?

  • Make a decision and then manage it. John Maxwell is famous for advocating. A heart attack crystalized his understanding here
  • Be humble. Don’t think bad stuff only happens to the other guy or gal. It can and will happen to you. Arrogance is such an ugly thing
  • Have a healthy suspicion of data, research, etc. Do your homework and be fearless
  • Understand what’s important to you. My wife is second in my life, so if big data says communicating my feelings will strengthen our relationship, I’m going to do it
  • Life over the sun is where you need to be. People living there rarely take things for granted and are in the moment

I hope we don’t come to a crossroads where history stands laughing because we were not able to connect the dots between understanding and action. In some ways it appears we’ve already started down that road.