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Wednesday
Mar022011

A Noble Cause

  They say extinction is forever.  Every year various species disappear from the earth, remaining as only a memory or an image in a textbook for future generations.  Eventually, they are forgotten by all but a specialized few.

In this post I'm going to show you how you can participate in the preservation of some of these endangered species.  I'm not talking about a small donation to a zoo or some abstract organization.  I'm talking about boots-on-the-ground, active and direct participation.

"Each year hundreds of words are dropped from the English language.  Old words, wise words, hard working words.  Words that once lead meaningful lives but now lie unused, unloved and unwanted."

Such begins the plea by Oxford Dictionaries to convince ordinary people like you and me to "Save The Words" by pledging to adopt and use one or more of these forgotten words in our conversation and writing.

A visit to the Save The Words webpage immediately puts us face to face with a crowded screen full of endangered words calling and clamoring for our attention.  It's like going to the SPCA and seeing all the cute kittens and puppies.  How can you possibly leave without adopting the adorable "Tortiloquy" or the sad-eyed "Patracian"?

I'm proud to say that my daughters have adopted the cuddly word, "Frutescent."  Now it's almost impossible to look at something or someone without evaluating its shrub-like qualities.

Visit www.savethewords.org . You never know -- the words you save could fill that vast "vacivity" in your heart.

And ... Oh, by the way, after visiting, please come back and leave a comment letting us know which word you saved.

Wednesday
Feb022011

Make Your Legacy Statement About Your Season of Love

If you are one of the well-meaning but procrastinating persons who pledged to yourself (possibly as a New Year's resolution) to write your legacy statement over the last year and, for whatever reason, didn't get to it, this post is for you.

Now, a whole year has gone by, all 525,600 minutes of it, and we are already 46,080 minutes into this year.  For many, it has been difficult to decide what to write about.  Why not start by writing about the past 525,600 minutes?

Consider the Broadway musical, Rent, a story about one year in the lives of 8 people in New York.  Individually and together, they go through a year of challenge, sadness, tragedy, hope and love.  The story touches on how each of their circumstances is intertwined with those of the others and is encapsulated in the lyrics of one of its songs, Seasons of Love.  Read the lyrics below and then listen to the Stevie Wonder version of the song.  I'm betting that it will inspire you to begin writing.

 

SEASONS OF LOVE (lyrics by Jonathan D. Larson)

  • Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
  • Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear,
  •  
  • Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
  • How do you measure, measure a year?
  •  
  • In daylight, in sunsets, in midnight, in cups of coffee,
  • In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife,
  • How do you measure a year in the life?
  •  
  • How about love? …
  • Measure in love
  •  
  • Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
  • Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan,
  •  
  • Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
  • How do you measure the life of a woman or man?
  •  
  • In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried,
  • In bridges he burned, or the way that she died.
  •  
  • It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends,
  • Let’s celebrate. Remember the year in the life of friends.
  •  
  • Remember the love.

 

Tuesday
Jan182011

It's Not About You

We see it all the time.  The press tells us that an ex-President or CEO is working on building his or her legacy.  However, we notice that the first thing that person does is run out and hire a publicist.  Then we see nothing but a series of photo-ops and P.R. events centering on the legacy builder.

The manifestation of your legacy is not really about you or how people remember you.  It is about the impact you have made on others.  The definition of manifest is “to make clear or evident, to reveal.”  The only way to make your legacy evident is through action, the objective of which is the welfare of others.

You are not your legacy.  You are the one who manifests your legacy.  What is ultimately important is not the image of yourself that you leave behind, but the purposeful action that results in a positive impact on other people’s lives.

In the Bible, Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.”  He repeatedly used the analogy of “fruits” to represent a person’s works or service to others.  The Dalai Lama has stated the same principle when he said, “The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our sense of well-being becomes.”

The legacy that is manifested is strictly a by-product, maybe even a reward for our part in making the world a better place.  The quest to leave a legacy is ultimately inspired by love.  Our love for our family, for our community and for our fellow human beings.

Unfortunately, to many people, legacy is about fame.  We see people who aspire to be famous by being famous.  Their legacy is printed on the covers of tabloids or in video archives.  The true legacies are earned by those who made the world a better place, those who made a difference in people’s lives, those who made their communities better. 

True legacies are recorded in the hearts of others, not on the printed page.

Wednesday
Dec082010

Baby Boomer Legacy

There was a recent article in USA Today that spoke about how members of the baby boom generation felt disconnected in their experiences from other boomers.

The baby boom generation has birthdays that stretch over 19 years, from 1946 through 1964. To those members of the first half, events like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Woodstock and the Vietnam War have far more impact than they did to later boomers like myself. I was 4 when Kennedy was shot, 13 when Nixon resigned. As a result, I have little or no memory of the first and Watergate happened too early in my life to influence my views.

While defining the baby boom is a 19 year period makes sense demographically – that's how long the spike in birth rates after World War II lasted – the cultural connection is missing. I don't feel I have a lot in common with someone born in 1947. And many born at the tail end of the baby boom may feel more connected with generation Xers.

The fact that two persons from the same generation can have such a different perspective I believe shows the need for us to explore and document our experiences, our viewpoint of these experiences and how they shaped our lives and molded our values. If there is that much difference between persons of the same generation, it is easy to understand the existence and reasons for the "generation gaps" that exist in our society.

This is an excellent example of an issue to address in a Legacy Statement. Your thoughtful introspection on the culture and events that influenced you can go a long way toward helping your grandchildren understand why you would ever consider wearing a leisure suit.

Thursday
Sep092010

Charitable Advice From A Master Promoter

P. T. Barnum was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, showman and promoter of the 19th century.  He is probably best known for his quote, "There's a sucker born every minute."  But Barnum was a lot more complex than most people realize.  He became the first show business millionaire.  He created the Barnum & Bailey Circus and was a master at advertising and entertainment.  Despite the outrageous promotions he came up with, he knew that his success depended upon giving his customers their money's worth.

Barnum also wrote a book, The Art of Money-Getting, that is a series of essays that illustrate his ideas and beliefs on business and life in general.

One of the essays gives his thoughts on the quality of being charitable.

BE CHARITABLE

"Of course men should be charitable, because it is a duty and a pleasure. But even as a matter of policy, if you possess no higher incentive, you will find that the liberal man will command patronage, while the sordid, uncharitable miser will be avoided.

"Solomon says: "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than meet, but it tendeth to poverty." Of course the only true charity is that which is from the heart.

"The best kind of charity is to help those who are willing to help themselves. Promiscuous almsgiving, without inquiring into the worthiness of the applicant, is bad in every sense. But to search out and quietly assist those who are struggling for themselves, is the kind that "scattereth and yet increaseth." But don't fall into the idea that some persons practice, of giving a prayer instead of a potato, and a benediction instead of bread, to the hungry. It is easier to make Christians with full stomachs than empty."