Bill is gracious, hospitable, and wise. Over the last year, we’ve become friends and Bill is almost as dear to me as my favorite male cousin.
Bill is a legend in the county where he lives and in another, more than 100 miles away. He’s a “get ‘er done” kind of guy. Many people may think he’s had a thoroughly wonderful life. Those people overlook his trials and his tragedy.
Three years ago, a freak accident took his only son and beautiful daughter-in-law. Bill’s son died in his arms. For more than a year he tried to keep his mourning at bay with mountains of work. Finally, he came to peace with the loss and have found ways to honor his son and daughter-in-law.
Bill is a man of faith. We met through an organization that helps achievers move from their current level of success, to seeking a more purposeful significance for the remainder of their earthly time. We have had frank and respectful interchanges. We like and trust each other.
Recently, Bill realized that his accomplishments give him street credibility with 30 to 50-year-olds seeking to prove themselves. He discovered that he has the love, patience, and wisdom to invest in younger men. He wants them to avoid the blunders he committed and to nudge them toward the wisdom he acquired the hard way.
Several young men have expressed appreciation for his caring enough to invest in them. He’s willing and eager to do more of that but now there’s only one 31-year-old who is actively engaging with Bill.
Willie Nelson’s line “we grew up in black-and-white,” describes Bill and me. Our Dads tended to be stoic and private. They were restrained in praise, affirmation, and expressing affection. That was their time and their culture.
Within the last few months, Bill’s rough and tough father has lost 30% of his weight. Liver cancer will probably take Dad within two months. Bill is going to engage with his tough and cranky Dad, following the commandment to “honor your father and mother.” He will thank his father for his good intentions. He knows his Pop may never say: “I love you,” or “I’m proud of you,” or “I appreciate you.”
Bill is building a legacy. Legacy is what people think, say, and do because of your influence. Bill’s kids, sons-in-law, the people who work for him, and the people who compete against him will learn that for a few months Bill is setting aside dealmaking, winning contracts, and finishing projects to invest in an old man who cannot repay him. Bill says it’s more important than the biggest deal he ever made.
A wise soul in our group noted that a rare time gap has opened in Bill’s super-busy life. Bill had budgeted time for mentoring, nurturing, building up other men. Was it by chance that there was only one young man to soak up that much love? Or could it have been a divine coincidence that Bill’s dad’s life is ending when Bill can pivot and pour care and love into his dying father?
You know I write about legacy. Death is never a popular topic. Yet in the next 100 years, you and I will be gone. Some circumstances turn out better than expected, other times we get kicked in the chest. We rarely have control of the outcome. We always have control over our responses.
Your life is probably in a different season than Bill’s. How will you live this week so that your legacy might inspire others … so you can be known as an encourager and not a complainer … a victorious spirit, not a victim?
Each week I solicit your feedback. This week I’m especially eager to hear from you.
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”