In my home sits an old handcrafted oak and cedar chest. It’s nice and is one of our prized possessions. That cedar chest is special because my grandfather and I made that cedar chest together over 30 years ago.
Memories of Grandpa
While we were making that cedar chest together, which would become my wedding gift to my wife, my grandfather taught me his trade. He was a strong, stoic German man of few words. His hands were so callused that he didn’t use sandpaper; he just rubbed his fingers on the wood and it was made smooth.
He lived through The Dust Bowl and The Great Depression, which taught him the value of hard work, and formed his character and his principles.
More than Memories
My grandfather has been gone for many years, but he gave me more than the knowledge and skills to build that cedar chest. He taught me his beliefs, his way of life, how to work, and how to treat people.
We never talked about it, but I could see it and I could feel it each time I looked into his steel blue eyes. He wanted to leave something behind after he was gone, and I knew it. Even though he never said a word about it, he wanted to have something to show for his life.
Don’t we all?
Maybe that’s why in his last few years, he made each of his grandkids a very special table carved from the big old walnut tree he cut down from his yard.
What We All Want
I think there are lots of people out there who want to leave something behind. Sometimes they refer to it as leaving a legacy. Yet, they wonder how, because they see themselves as insignificant. They think because they don’t have a fancy job title, or they don’t have a big salary that they don’t have what it takes to be influential.
I make a career of speaking and teaching people. Where do you think I learned those lessons and principles that I call on to teach others? Whose lessons and principles am I really teaching?
That’s right—my grandfather’s.
The lessons and principles that I teach today are his; he taught them to me while building a cedar chest for my new wife in his old basement. Sure, I convert his voice to the voice of modern business today, but in essence, they really are his lessons and his principles that I teach. They are really his way of life that now, becomes his legacy.
Where Do We Go From Here?
We all will leave something behind after we are gone. We all affect people’s lives. We all influence others, yet we cannot pick the time or place. We can choose how we live our lives, how we work and how we treat people. We can choose what we stand for and the principles we live by.
That’s right, we all will leave a legacy. What will your legacy be?
New Year – New Questions
Now is a good time to think about your legacy with these four questions:
- What is your current legacy?
- What do you wish your legacy to be?
- What is the gap and how will you close it?
- Why does it matter?