I know it is due to the fact that I am getting older (42) but each day I am more convinced that the only real legacy we can leave behind is the impact we have on the lives of others. Not just our family and friends but each person we come into contact with each day. Technology has created the opportunity for us to exponentially increase the number of people we interact with on a daily basis. This is definitely a double edged sword because it also provides the opportunity to leave others cold with misinterpretations and/or abrupt and hurtful comments we would never say to someone’s face. As I read the other day, “Technology gives us the opportunity to be dumber faster.”
We can reach out to old friends on facebook, make hundreds of new connections on twitter, and expand out business connections with linkedin. The key is that we always keep the goal of “adding value” as the main reason for interacting with each person we come in contact with. This simple mantra ensures that our focus stays on them and not us. Too often we are caught in the “I trap” and try to leverage the relationship in our favor. I think this is human nature and we are prone to act in self-interest most of the time. In fact, this is the foundation of the free market system…but I digress. It is imperative that we slow ourselves down and have meaningful conversations with both old and new friends as often as possible. Relationships are critical to our existence. We are social by nature and studies have shown that people with strong & vibrant networks live longer and more meaningful lives.
This has been brought into focus for me over the past several weeks due to the following events:
- My high school superintendent who served the school district for 28 years passed away suddenly. I watched him announce the candidates for queen at the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival (which he had done for almost 30 years) on Thursday evening and found out he had passed away on Saturday morning.
- My cub scout den leader & pony league baseball coach (who also happens to be the barber who has cut my dad’s hair for 30+ years) spent several days in the hospital for heart related issues. At one point they told his wife he would most likely not live even if he did come out of the medically induced coma. Not only did he wake up but the doctors discharged him in less than 48 hours because all the tests showed his heart suffered no permanent damage from the episode.
- Several prayer requests at church for young people just older than my oldest child who have brain tumors or were killed in an automobile accident.
You can never be sure when it will be the last time you speak to someone so always make it count. Some people would view this as disheartening or depressing. I do not. I view it as refreshing and exciting because I have the opportunity to do something about it. This is not a call to be PollyAnn-ish and walk around happy and sappy all the time. Quite the opposite. It is a call to be yourself and be the person God put you on this earth to be because that is all any of us can do.
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Make somebody feel good today…