1. Treat Everyone Like a VIP
My dad worked hard and he progressed rapidly up the corporate ladder. Late one evening we stopped by his office in Santa Monica. As we entered the tall building my dad personally greeted the security guard. In the elevator he talked to another security guard and as we exited onto his floor he greeted the cleaning crew. What impressed me was the depth of communication my dad had with all of them. He asked about their families, he knew the names of their children and he showed a genuine interest in their well-being.
My dad had a large network of friends, colleagues and family. I remember seeing him write hundreds of letters and messages to send in personalized birthday cards. He kept a detailed calendar and he always seemed to remember birthdays with a card or phone call. He treated everyone like they were important.
2. Give Back
Community service was a big part of my dad’s life, particularly church. Our family attended church every Sunday and I remember seeing both of my parents actively involved in serving others. When someone needed help, my dad was one of the first to volunteer. I remember many times in the winter when he would help people get home when their cars were stuck in the snow.
3. Show Up
I remember that whenever my dad made a commitment to do something he was there. Not only was he there, but he was out front doing everything he could to make the event better. He never asked someone to do a job that he was not willing to do himself.
4. Make Family a Priority
I remember my dad going to work extremely early every morning to avoid rush hour traffic. He left work in the evenings to be home in time for dinner. We ate dinner together as a family almost every evening.
Dad also knew how to make chores fun. I remember once he let the grass grow a bit longer than usual and then he mowed various patterns. As a child I remember running all over the backyard along these newly created paths. Certainly it would have been faster for him to just mow the lawn, but he saw the value in creating family time.
It was easy to talk with my dad. We often had late night snacks around the kitchen table where we would talk and have competitions like seeing who could eat the most jalapeno peppers.
5. Take Time to Play
My dad knew the value of spending time to relax and recharge. I remember dad waking up early on the weekends to spend time in the garden. Many of his activities included the family. Some of the ways he relaxed included skiing, hiking, camping, golfing, watching movies and listening to music.
6. Keep a Positive Attitude
When my dad was 45 years old he was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. He spent the next twelve years having numerous operations and struggling with poor health. During that time I remember him having a positive attitude. Often, when others would come to visit him in his frail condition, he ended up making them feel better.
7. Leave Things Better Than You Found Them
My dad showed me how to leave things better than I found them. This included things like cleaning up other people’s trash left at picnic sites and tidying up neighbors’ yards.
Once my dad needed to borrow a neighbor’s shovel. It was old and a bit worn out. Before my dad returned it he sanded the wood handle, stained it and removed the rust from the shovel. It looked brand new when he took it back to the neighbor.
I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from both of my parents. Of course there are many more lessons I could add to this list. If I can teach even just a few of these lessons to my family I will feel successful.
What lessons have you learned from your parents?
“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”
Get out your journal and write your own eulogy and the legacy you will be leaving.
What would people say about you if you were to die tomorrow? Does that match with the legacy you want to leave?
More often than not, when faced with this exercise, individuals find that there are many things they wish to accomplish in their lives. It is important to set powerful goals.
Following are a few exercises that are useful in determining goals. As you are completing these exercises think about the following areas in your life:
Personal/Spiritual Development – What do you do to increase your knowledge? Do you have hobbies? Are you part of a religious group?
Family – What would a great family life look like to you?
Health/Self Care – Is your body in the best shape it can be?
Financial/Career – If you won a million dollars would you have the same career? How could you help others?
Leisure/Fun/Friends – What do you do to relax? If you started over tomorrow would you choose the same friends? Are they a positive influence in your life? Do they build you up or tear you down?
Physical Environment – Is your environment clean, peaceful, organized? Do you live where you want to live?
All of these areas should balance in a way that makes you feel great doing them everyday.
1. Create a bucket list.
A lot of us have a small bucket list in the back of our minds and somewhere in that list are hidden goals. This exercise is one of the easiest ways to more clearly see those goals.
Write everything you have always wanted to do in life before you die. Nothing is off limits. Be as specific as possible as you write everything down. Then go back and prioritize the top 100. Yes 100!
2. Imagine what you would do if you only had one year to live.
What would be important to you? How would you spend your time?
3. Imagine you won the lottery.
If money were no longer an issue what life would you live?
Cross reference your answers to these three exercises and this will give you an idea of what you want to accomplish and the legacy you would like to leave.
Set some specific life goals that will contribute to your legacy.
“Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.”
from How to Set Goals
“Making a living and making a life sometimes point in opposite directions.”
“I think many of us have the sensation that we’re standing about two inches away from a huge screen, and it’s noisy and it’s crowded and it’s changing with every second, and that screen is our lives. And it’s only by stepping back, and then further back, and holding still, that we can begin to see what the canvas means and to catch the larger picture. And a few people do that for us by going nowhere.”
“So, in an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still. So you can go on your next vacation to Paris or Hawaii, or New Orleans; I bet you’ll have a wonderful time. But, if you want to come back home alive and full of fresh hope, in love with the world, I think you might want to try considering going nowhere.”