Last week marked 6 months since our beloved, 20-year-old “neighbor” died from her brave battle with evil cancer. Neighbor really isn’t the right word. It’s accurate. She lived next door to us for most of her life. But it’s not sufficient. Martha was a part of our family, as are her parents and three siblings.
As the bright yellow and red leaves fall quietly from the trees in my yard, and the cooler Fall weather finally emerges (reluctantly here in Colorado)… I’m feeling pensive. About life cycles and our brief moment here in this form and shape.
A colleague of mine, who is a fellow cancer survivor like me, always says “Live your legacy, don’t just leave it.” I love the way this phrase drives home presence and intentionality.
It asks us to consider, “How am I living? Right. Now.”
This question has arisen in my work lately as well. In the past month, I’ve had the privilege of talking to nearly thirty incredible clients about how emotional intelligence (EQ) impacts their life and their leadership (because there’s always crossover).
Each of these leaders has been courageous and vulnerable in taking this EQ assessment and then discussing their strength and challenge areas with me. They are school principals. They are CFOs and CEOs of community organizations and nonprofits. They have accomplished much in their lives.
And yet, I’m constantly amazed at the beauty of the human experience, the struggles people face, and the deep resilience that is fostered by many. While we’re discussing empathy, emotional expression, assertiveness, self-regard, problem solving (and 10 other data areas) — we find ourselves in a place of exploration.
Should I let people know how I feel? And if yes, how?
How does my own self-doubt impact others?
Am I thoughtful and responsive when emotions are high, or reactive and impulsive?
What is the cost of being guarded at work?
What is the potential benefit of speaking up more assertively? Will I offend people?
On and on, together we explore how they’re living their lives. How they’re forging relationships. How they’re leading their teams, schools, or organizations.
How are they living their lives? Right. Now.
And is it working for them?
Are they effective leaders and happy humans?
I don’t always get into the actual life and death conversation… but sometimes I do. Because, yes, they’re “successful” leaders in the community. They’re doing “good” work. But, are they content? And could they make an even bigger positive impact if they stretched and tweaked some of their longtime behaviors?
One of the many (many, many) parts of Martha’s legacy was her ability to answer that question — “How am I living? Right. Now.”
And she LIVED that legacy. She lived kindness, generosity, humor, delight, and thrill. She’d build people up with sincere praise (and call others out if warranted, too.) She’d do things that made her, or others, happy — because she could.
She knew that there are no guarantees. That seeing the Fall leaves is a gift. That getting to hear others’ stories is an honor. That fully using what you uniquely have to give, as often as you can, is the way to live your legacy.
I could write countless tales of my “life lessons from Martha,” and I probably will.
But for today, I invite you to ask yourself:
How are you living your life?
Is it working for you?
Or is there some other way that you could LIVE your legacy?
Thanks for being a part of my community and in this conversation with me.
It’s not always easy to feel all the feelings. To ask hard questions. To challenge yourself to grow. To lead others in their own growth alongside you.
I appreciate each of you.
And if you live where there are bright leaves, please go crunch them under your feet and watch them rain down.
P.S. When you’re ready, here are 3 ways that I can help you or your organization.
- Leadership coaching that supports you in leveraging your strengths and building your capacity.
- Team training and development that builds trust and connection.
- Motivational speaking at colleges and organizations
If you want to talk further about bringing my work to you or your team, please schedule a call HERE.