“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
A legacy is defined as something received from an ancestor. Many people focus on building a legacy once they near retirement age. I don’t ever plan on slowing down or retiring but I am at an age that many people retire by. Now my focus is not only building but extending my legacy by passing it along. One way that I’m doing this is writing my memoirs for not only my children and grandchildren but to publish as a book. I’ve been talking about this in the past few weeks via this blog as the “Invisible Hand of God” leading me on this incredible journey. I want to share my experiences that built my faith as well as other life lessons that I’ve learned.
What legacy was left for me? I’ve enjoyed researching my family tree to see where my roots lie. It’s fascinating to see what countries my forefathers came from and when they came to America to settle and build their legacies here. I believe that those who came before me helped shape me and that not only their genetic makeup but character are a part of me. I’m related to 13 of the brave Mayflower pilgrims that came over from England. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized my ancestors John and Priscilla Alden’s romance in one of his famous poems.* I attribute part of my being an entrepreneur to my great desire for freedom like my pilgrim ancestors. My paternal grandfather, John Henry Brailsford, ran away when he was 13 to work in the coal mines in Utah. After an injury, he quit mining and became one of the first employees of JC Penney, becoming one of their top employees. William Frederick Webster was my maternal grandfather who started with nothing in his pockets and became the town’s most successful businessman. I like to think I inherited their willingness to take risks. I was blessed to have wonderful parents that raised me with Christian values in a loving and stable home. I attribute my work ethic and integrity to both them and their parents. They taught me that your word is your bond and if you worked hard you would see successful results. They taught me that God and family were the most important things in your life. I’ve kept this in mind with every major decision I’ve made. I love to read stories about how people became successful. I’ve thought many times well if they can do it, then so can I.
What about my professional legacy? I’ve owned several companies and founded and built 3 MLM companies that are still growing strong. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, said what he wanted his legacy to be: “To have created one of the most respected companies in the world. Not necessarily the biggest.” Many companies focus on being the next “billion dollar company”. I don’t care how big my companies get as long as they are respected, growing and making a significant impact in people’s lives. It is not until leaders desire to be significant that they discover the true meaning of leadership and legacy building. My hope is that as I help people succeed, this will define my significance as a leader.
Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer, who interviewed more than 1,200 Americans mostly 70 and up for his Legacy Project said, “We found that many of the elders see transmitting their values and core principles as their most important legacy.” I believe that this is the most important legacy you can leave behind.
What legacy are you leaving and how do you want to be remembered? Whenever I leave this Earth, I hope I’m remembered as being honest, hard working and truly making a significant impact for good in other’s lives. This is what I’ve always tried to do.
“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” – Billy Graham
*for more details about John and Priscilla Alden go to http://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org/pdf/Courtship_Miles_Standish.pdf