We want to spend some time thinking about our legacy, how others recognize us, and what kind of mark we leave on this world. It seems a little bit heavy, but I think it aligns directly with what we stand for as an organization, and the goal of these weekly messages: that is, to offer tips to help us all get even better at all the things we do, so that the way each one of us is remembered is as positive, uplifting, and beneficial as possible.
This week is a tribute to a man who influenced the lives of others in a wonderfully positive way. I had the sad occasion to attend his funeral recently, and it seems unfair that someone with such a joy of life would be taken, what can only feel like, too soon. As the friends, family, colleagues, and students, current and past, gathered to celebrate the life of this inspirational man, the stories that were shared over and over again all included four consistent themes that I think we could all benefit from. So, today’s newsletter is a tribute to Marty Feeney. In this world, where we’re experiencing an ever-increasing amount of “connectivity” and an ever-dwindling amount of true human connection, Marty’s life offers us four invaluable tips that could be inspirational and beneficial to each one of us.
1. Be present.
The first theme that characterized the stories about Marty Feeney was his ability to be fully present in whatever moment he was in. This was especially evident in the conversations he had with those around him. I invite you to find ways to be present in your moments. Don’t be distracted by the cellphone in your hands, or the worries on your shoulders, or the things that might be going on in the background. Instead, be present in the moment with the other individuals that are also present. If it’s a meeting, then close your laptop and engage. If it’s a one-on-one, then silence your phone and close the door. If it’s a phone call, then step away to a quiet space. If it’s a chat with a friend, then remove all possible distractions to be present in the moment with them. Focus fully on the other person. Listen, really listen, to what they have to say and engage with them.
2. Be generous.
What’s the fun of having money or things if you don’t share? What’s the point of having a joyful moment if you don’t share it with someone else? A second theme that characterizes the stories of Marty’s life was his generosity. His took the form of candy, chocolate bars, and over-the-top generosity to the people around him. How can you be generous? Can you be generous with your time? Can you tip generously? Can you be generous with the resources, insights, or shortcuts that you have so that others can benefit? I read recently about a woman who didn’t simplify in her house for the sake of simplifying, but rather she walked through her house and approached each room and each pile stuff with a lens of ‘Could someone else benefit from this more than I do? Can it bring joy to someone else?’ That kind of generosity involves truly putting others first, and it can make a world of difference.
3. Be encouraging.
Perhaps you can be generous with your praise, but even more than that, you can hone your ability to encourage another human, cheer someone on, or lift up their spirits when they’re feeling down. A third theme that characterizes the stories of Marty’s life was his ability to build others up. Marty was an encourager, and inspired others to do the next thing, whether they were engaged in collegiate speech and debate, delivering their next assignment in class, or simply going through their day, Marty had a knack for lifting others up. If you can be that person, not just to give that kind word, but genuinely offer words that inspire others to have a better day, wouldn’t that be a great way to contribute to someone else’s life?
4. Have fun.
The fourth theme that characterizes the stories of Marty’s life was that he met each moment with a level of exuberance that is just about unparalleled in this world. He believed in fun. The times I spent with him he usually had a twinkle in his eye, and he was finding some way to delight in the moment at hand to the greatest extent possible. He was whimsical and quirky and silly sometimes, and he was ready with his laughter. How many of us take ourselves too seriously and focus on the negative in our lives and the things that weigh us down? How many of us forget to make time for fun? I think then we can stop to take ourselves less seriously, laugh a little bit more, and bring others to laughter with us, we can leave a situation and a person better than we found them.
Those are four themes in honor and tribute to Marty Feeney of characteristics we can demonstrate that don’t rely on our environment. They don’t rely on the job that we hold or the title that we carry. They don’t revolve around the weather or the season. They don’t depend on how much money is in our pocket at any given moment, but they are characteristics that can help define a person and, as in Marty’s case, define a person by the waves of positive impact that they leave behind.
How about you? What do you want to be known for? Join us on social media and share your own examples of how others have made a positive impact on you or how you have been intentional about making a positive impact on others. Join us on social media and share your own examples of how positive legacies are created.