How I Finally Understood The Importance Of Leaving A Legacy

I will never forget my second business trip to Knoxville, Tennessee. I was going to be in town for a week’s worth of events and came prepared. I had mapped out the entire area and knew where all the grocery stores, restaurants and gyms were. I wanted to make this trip an exemplar trip for my upcoming busy 2013 business travel schedule.

Upon my Sunday afternoon arrival at Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport, football was on my brain so I rushed to my hotel room.  Once I got to my hotel, I saw the local TV station games were of no interest to me so I went to the grocery store. I picked up healthy food items that would keep my physique in check for the entire week.

Now that I had completed establishing my hotel “Safety Zone” (read Release The Beast), I proceeded to continue watching football while surfing the Internet. You see, Christmas was only a few short weeks away and I wanted to help my sister buy laptops for my nephews.

I called my sister and spoke about my gift ideas. After awhile, we started to talk about other topics. Eventually, I expressed to her how I had been reading this book on the flight to Knoxville that blew away my mind! That book was Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice by Dennis Kimbro & Napoleon Hill.

Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice by Dennis Kimbro and Napoleon HillThink & Grow Rich

Most inspiring entrepreneurs have heard of the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Not too many are aware of the Black Choice version. As an African American, I highly encourage you (no matter what ethnic background you have) to read this version of it. It’s captivating to read stories of poor Black Americans rising up and creating dream lifestyles despite impossible circumstances.

The last chapter I read before talking to my sister, talked about creating your legacy. Up into that point I never really thought too much about my legacy. I had always gone by day by day. Sure I saved money in the bank due to my well paying job, but I never truly thought about what I was leaving for future generations.

My wife and I currently do not have any kids. What I do have is several young cousins, nieces and nephews. As I started to think about their current lives, I realized that these family members are a part of my legacy. It’s up to me to make sure they understand what I have been through in this world. For better or worse, it’s my responsibility to look after them and share my past with them.

Is This My Life?

As I sat in that hotel room it was like a light was shining on me. I sat and thought about my daily routine. I had been just showing up at work without really having an end game in mind. I was collecting a good paycheck but didn’t really have a true purpose at the job. I was only content with being in the job position I was in and not moving upward. I start thinking that if I wasn’t going to move upward or laterally, what would my next twenty years look like?

Have you ever had a job where you’ve seen someone at the same position for their entire careers? Never striving to be anything more then average? Despite all their talents, they were just happy with collecting a paycheck and staying in place. Is that the type of person I wanted to portray to the next generation? Is that how I want them to remember me as?

If I was to die today, I started to think exactly what would I be remembered for? The person who never spoke up about anything? As a youngster I was always told how special I was. Everyone would tell me how smart I was. At what point did I stop advancing? As I read more and more into the chapter, I just knew that couldn’t be me!

My college years damaged me tremendously. I always hated school but after graduating college, it just furthered my hatred. (Note: I look forward to writing my book series about my college life later this year. It’s been loonng overdue! )

Despite my hatred for school I understood the importance of education. You need some sort of education to understand the past so you can properly prepare for the present and future. So where exactly was my future taking me?

Present State Of Mind

That thought provoking process a few years ago is what led me to the point I’m at right now. You see, I’m in the midst of creating a legacy I would have never guessed ten years ago. I always had bosses that saw the potential in me, and told me that I would be able to run my own company some day. I use to be too young and naïve to really listen to them. As the years have went on, the message they were trying to teach me has become crystal clear.

We all don’t know how much time we have on this planet. If that were the case, wouldn’t it be awesome if you lived your life each day! Whether that’s in business, family, relationships or fitness, just imagine actually living life to it’s fullest. Visualize the day you’re gone and the smiles on people’s faces. Not sadness and depression. But actual joy on their faces because they knew the life you lived. They know that you did not live a selfish life but one of excellence. A life of making this world a better place.

The Legacy Of Two Incredible Women

Aunt Betty

When I think about legacies, the first people in my life that come to mind are my Aunt Betty and Aunt Pam. My Aunt Betty passed away from cancer when I was six years old. I only knew her for a short period of my life, but it was long enough to leave a lasting impact.

Whenever I see myself eating something new and exotic, I think of my Aunt Betty. I remember the countless restaurants she would take my mom and I out to for lunch.

Chinese Food with sweet & sour chicken plus friend rice, lo mein noodles.
My First Sweet & Sour Chicken Experience was With Aunt Betty

There’s without a doubt that I got my love and passion for food from my Aunt Betty. To this day when I try new restaurants, I can’t help but smile because my Aunt Betty helped plant that seed in me. It’s a gift that she passed to me without even realizing. I look forward to thanking her some day.

Aunt Pam

My Aunt Pam was someone extremely special and dear to my heart. She was one of the nicest people to ever walk upon this planet. My Aunt Pam had two boys the same age as my brother and me so we were very close as children. Even when my mom moved from Ohio to Virginia, we still stayed tight like brothers. In the summers my brother and I would stay in Ohio with my Aunt Pam. That’s why I always felt she was my second mom. I didn’t’ shy away from calling her mom on occasions.

As I became older, it became evident the sacrifices my Aunt Pam made to make us all happy. She hid her pains and frustrations from us kids. Her exterior was only to make the people around her lives joyful. I have yet to meet anyone that knew my Aunt Pam that didn’t instantly feel in love with her generosity and kindness. She didn’t have wealth of money but she had a spirit about her that remains unmatched.

After high school, my college and professional career kept me from being able to consistently stay in touch with my Aunt Pam as much as I would have liked. The simple phone calls did not happen as frequently as they should because I took life for granted.

My Aunt Pam passed away in 2013.

I’m thankful enough to have been able to speak to her before she passed away and tell her just how much she impacted my life. Even in that short emotional conversation, I don’t think she got the full impact she’s had on my life. There’s so many things instilled in me from our time together. From the way I clean a bathroom, to the way I make a sandwich, to even letting my guard down so individuals could see the goofy side of me. That was her legacy to me.

A Legacy Is More Than Wealth

Both of my Aunts were not rich. Neither one had any type of monetary inheritance to bestow upon their families. What they did do was unknowingly leave something much greater than money. If I could only impact someone’s life 1/100th of the way those two impacted my life, there’s no dollar amount that could equate to that!

That’s the type of legacy I wish to achieve someday. If I could just change one person’s life the way they changed mine, I would have lived my life to it’s fullest! I can only hope to achieve something so similar to another person’s life.

As you go about your day today, think about my story and ask yourself ……What’s the legacy I’m leaving behind?

  • YFM

    Touching. ..