Is it the successes and triumphs versus the losses, measured in a wins-and-losses format? Is it the total distance traveled past the life obstacles one has overcome? Or is it the amount of people one has connected with and inspired to help them maximize themselves and their potential?
To me, it is a combination of all three. A legacy is a type of personal achievement record, like being “on the record.” It is what we each do with the time given us— how we use or abuse that time and the “God given” gifts and talents we are each bestowed. Birth then becomes our starting line. From then on, each of us is granted the same amount of time in a day: 24 hours.
Prioritizing our lives is done on many levels, both conscientious and some sub-consciously. Early in life, I was consumed with the sole mission of earning a full college basketball scholarship and becoming our family’s first college graduate.
At the time, I was doing it for me and my Mom. Yet even then, I knew that as the oldest grandchild, I was creating a “blueprint” for all my younger relatives to follow to their own personal successes.
This prioritization at a young age was more egocentric. It served me well at the time, but it wasn’t until a low point later in life that I came to understand and embrace my true legacy’s calling. One is often tested in life to see just how committed and focused we are.
When we begin to understand our own mortality, we become more “self-aware” of exactly what we will leave behind as a representation that we were here. My awakening came when I returned home to Virginia in 1997, after a championship-level High School and College basketball career. It came after a record-setting career in the broadcast radio and television equipment manufacturers industry.
The simple questions I asked were: “What brings you the most joy and fulfillment in your life? What do you want your mark on the world to be? What things have you been blessed with and how do you pass these blessings on to future generations that they too may find their “most-positive-purposeful way?”
The answers to these questions were separated into two categories. First, what I had to do to earn a living and support myself and, secondly, what can and should I do that will fill me and my soul with the most joy? We all face this quandary.
During our championship season of coaching in 1989 at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle, Washington, I was able to be a part of helping many young men become champions both on and off the court. The same as someone else had done for me years before by my seven role model coaches.
That success opened up an inner door within me that had been sealed in a self-preservation-driven attempt to move past a painful childhood littered with disappoint-mental debris. Those revelations became my writings and spoken word poetry, a kind of “therapy’ that gave me comfort and purpose.