Success. It is defined in many ways. Randy Sutton in his book The Power of Legacy defines a successful life as legacy – what we leave behind; what we pass on to others. He interviews 26 people that he defines as successful. What makes the stories fascinating and insightful is uncovering who influenced these folks to become successful. In each case, it is a story of kindness.
I was from a small town middle school when I traveled to the “Big City” of Montreal for the first time. I really was there to watch a track meet. However, my academic curiosity caught the better of me. I convinced my chaperon to wander through the physics department at McGill University. I was thrilled to see a cyclotron! A professor strolled by and asked about what we were doing there. Once he heard my geek fascination, he took us into a classroom a gave us a one hour lecture on the nature of the universe and particle physics. A small kindness that propelled me into a career in science.
The Power of Legacy is focused on all the people who extended kindness and influenced ordinary men and women. These acts of kindness affected the men and women so profoundly, that they became leaders – some of America’s most inspiring citizens. Men and women who became outstanding in fields of compassion, charity, sharing, leadership, justice and courage.
The men and women, who’s stories are told in their words, are leaving a legacy behind, now. Kouzes and Posner have described leadership as “not solely about producing results. Success in leadership is not measured only in numbers. Being a leader brings with it a responsibility to do something of significance that makes families, communities, work organizations, nations, the environment, and the world better places than they are today.” In other words, leaders leave a legacy by doing something of significance. Leaders goes beyond the bottom line.
Each story is inspirational in understanding the journeys these leaders have taken to make a difference. It leaves the reader with only one conclusion – each of us has the possibility to do the same. It takes belief, kindness, and charity to have a legacy – to be remembered by lives you have touched, today.