This may seem a bit unusual for my typical posts, but indulge me for a bit if you will. It’s been an unusual past few days for me, and the things I was reminded of through them may resonate with you as well. If you can learn anything from my experiences, even better!
Last week, I was pleased to participate in a book launch that was huge and very personal for me. I had co-authored a book with 20 other authors called The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time. This book is incredible; unusual from any other book I’ve ever read because it is the collective vision of multiple authors all writing in a single voice, sharing the same message, each in their own unique way. Character counts in leadership, we say. And leadership today is sorely lacking in good character, but we each have it within ourselves to make a difference.
That’s not all that makes the book unique though. This collaboration was 100% virtual. Although I have come to know and love many of my co-authors through social networks, e-mail, video chats and phone calls, I have not met a single one of them in real life yet. Tomorrow, I will meet the first when Will Lukang joins me for a book signing event.
I tackled two distinct but related subjects in The Character-Based Leader, intentionality and perseverance. I wrote about how the choices we make reflect who we are in life. If you want to live an impactful life, you have to live purposefully. And I shared about how purpose leads to vision, which is one of the four key elements to perseverance. Without vision, there’s no justification to persevere.
As the book was launching, I told my mother that I had a feeling that when I looked back at the end of my days, this book was going to be one of the accomplishments I was most proud of. Little did I think at that time that my days might be numbered on one hand.
Two days ago, my 12 year-old-son disobeyed a rule. He’s not supposed to leave the yard without letting me know where he’s going. We live in a rural area with woods, swamps, ponds and a small grass landing strip across the road. When going for a walk, you can strike out in just about any direction. And it’s not that I don’t want him leaving the property, but that I want to know where he is if I need to find him.
He had a friend over on Sunday, and they asked to go for a walk. It was fine with me, and they left and came back with no issues. But then, apparently, they left again without telling me. When I looked for them later, they were nowhere to be found.
A bit angry, and certainly frustrated, I headed to one of my son’s favorite “hang-outs,” a stone outcropping at the crest of a knoll at the far end of the country airport; a spot about ¾ of a mile from my home. Guess what? I didn’t tell anyone where I was going either…
That unintentional choice almost cost me my life. Despite the cool temperatures, I managed to find the one and only (I’m sure) half-alive, but alive enough, bumblebee in the entire neighborhood, and stuck my foot right into its stinger. For many people, that may not seem like a big deal. But the last time I was stung, 13 years ago, I was told the next time would be my last if I didn’t get immediate medical attention.
Here I was, ¾ of a mile away from home, no one knowing where I was, and off the beaten track. There was no immediate medical attention to be had, and my Epipen was at home.
What could have been a fatal mistake ultimately wasn’t, or I wouldn’t be writing this to you today. I’m thankful to say, I had no fear of dying. I’m ready spiritually for when that happens. And, yes. The Character-Based Leader is definitely among the proudest accomplishments of my legacy thus far.
But there were two main things that forced me to persevere that day. One was that I couldn’t let my son ever feel that my death was his fault. The other was that there was someone special to me that I hadn’t told how I felt yet.
Those two things gave me the purpose to persevere in a frightening and challenging situation. And within 24 hours, I’d had the conversation I needed to have with my son, and made a bumbling attempt to talk to that special someone as well.
There are a few take-aways here that we can all learn from.
- What unintentional choices are you making that could be life-altering for you or those you love?
- Are there behaviors you dislike in others that need to be changed in you too?
- What burden do you have the power to relieve or alleviate for someone else?
- Is there something you haven’t shared with someone that you’d regret them never knowing?
- Most importantly, what legacy are you leaving that marks your path through this world?
As you think through these questions and reflect on them, may they prompt changes in your life that have a lasting effect. And let me also say how very thankful I am for you, my readers, clients and friends. You make this journey called “life” a trip to be savored.
I’d love you hear your thoughts on these take-aways. Do they resonate with you?