I believe you want your life to matter, in the work you do and with the people you influence. I certainly want my life to matter. How do you go about building a lasting legacy? What can you do that will make your future eulogizers look back and say “Well done!”
I attended a memorial service today for Donnie Moore, an evangelist who had a big heart for helping teenagers. Even if you are not a Christian, you might appreciate that his camps helped over 30,000 kids and young adults get their lives on a positive track. That’s what I call an impressive legacy.
However, after hearing stories from family and friends at the service, I learned that Donnie never really set out with a grand plan to leave a legacy. He even passed up an NFL career that could have made him famous for football because he felt a stronger calling from God. He just helped people every day. That’s who he was… on or off the stage.
My career as a speaker and coach is more of a mission than a job to me. I asked myself what gives me the most joy, and the answer was seeing someone change their life based on my advice and support. Sometimes I will get paid for helping companies, and sometimes I will just help a friend through something tough. It’s not always perfect, but I give my best when anyone asks for help.
And why do I feel called to speak? The stories in my keynote about my heroic brother Jeff tie closely to the principles of commitment, teamwork and perseverance that help individuals achieve more in their lives. It helps business teams because achieving success requires a lot more than knowledge and technical skill… it requires heart.
Donnie Moore put his whole heart into everything he did, and I hope to live up to his example. We were together at a men’s retreat a few weeks ago. I had just finished doing a rhyming recap of his messages and the day’s events on stage, and the 110 men were cheering and laughing at all the inside jokes (one good-natured joke was even at Donnie’s expense.) I looked back at Donnie and he was pumping his fist in the air in approval. He walked right up to me and said, “David, I enjoy you so much.”
That’s the last time we talked, and of course… it was a word of appreciation from him.
You may be thinking about the legacy you will leave behind when you leave this world. What tangible evidence will there be that you lived… that you mattered? In the movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” Richard Dreyfuss played an orchestra teacher whose legacy was not in the master symphony he always wanted to write, but in the lives of so many students he touched with his wisdom and support along the way.
In other words, Mr. Holland just helped people every day.
Just like Donnie.
How about you, my friend? What legacy will you leave behind?