“When you love people and have the desire to make a profound, positive impact upon the world, then you will have accomplished the meaning to live.” — Sasha Azevedo
The decisions we make today will define the stories that get told about us.
By this, I mean, we are all writing a story with our lives. And it is going to be retold. It can’t not be. We are going to talk about it. Our kids are going to talk about it. Our grandkids are going to talk about it. Our friends are going to share memories about it. And the lives we shape are going to share pieces of it.
It is inevitable that our story is going to be told. This is, of course, called legacy.
Ultimately, our story is going to be positive, negative, or a combination of both. But there are no neutral lives being lived. People will talk about the positive impact we left or people will talk about the lasting harm we inflicted. People will talk about our presence or they will talk about our absence. But the story of our life is going to be told.
How then, can we live a story that we want retold? Consider the impact of these intentional actions:
1. Look to other stories. We often speak well of others. After all, there are a number of people who have left a positive imprint on our lives and the stories we tell. Look to those people. Their example can help shape ours along similar lines. What decisions did they make that shaped their story? And what were their underlying reasons for choosing them?
2. Keep an eye on long-term impact. We are so enamored by the here and now that we often forget to consider the long-term impact of our decisions. But sometimes, the pursuit of pleasure in the short-term holds disastrous outcomes for the long-term. We would be wise to consider both. Always.
3. Do the next right thing right. Coach Don Meyer, a family-friend, retired as the all-time wins leader among NCAA basketball coaches. His leadership, both on and off the basketball court, is marked by hard work, encouragement, faith, and service. When Don leads, he calls people to “just do the next right thing right.” Ultimately, the very next decision is the only decision we can make right now. Do the right one.
4. Invest wisely. Every hour of every day, we invest our lives somewhere. Invest it into the makings of a story worth telling. Value relationships, service, and good-will to others. Pursue these with your time, your finances, and your efforts. These investments will always shape the arc of your story towards a positive end. And will result in a better story than chasing money, power, or fame.
5. Get some help. It is nearly impossible to live life effectively on our own. There is nothing wrong or weak about asking for help. In fact, if you are struggling in any area of your life (marriage, parenting, finances, lack of direction, destructive habits), there are people who can help or who can direct you towards help. Find some. Not only does pride lead to a fall, it is also quite unbecoming.
6. Listen, listen, listen. Cherish the input of people who care about you. If there is someone in your life warning you about the choices you are making, listen to them. Take their words to heart. They may be wrong. They may be right. But you’ll never know for sure if you ignore their voice. Make humble listening a priority.
7. Change with one small step. Until life is taken from us, change is possible. And it always starts with just one decision to head in a new direction. If you desire to reshape the story of your life, make at least one small change today. Your first step in the right direction does not have to be a big one.
The stories of our lives are going to be told. This is inevitable. Let’s make the decisions that lead to the story we want told about us.