People Will Summarize Your Life in One Sentence
What do want your legacy to be? What would you do if you knew you only had a short amount of time left tomake an impact? Eventually our lives will be summarized in a single sentence. What do you want yours to be?
Clare Boothe Luce cleverly called this your “life sentence.” It’s the one sentence that you would like people to say aboutyou when your life is over. If you are intentional about creating your legacy, people at your funeral won’t have to wonder what your life sentence was.
What Do You Want to Be Known For?
I encourage you to begin the process of writing your life sentence. Yes, this will take some time and thought on your part, and it will cause you to ask yourself what do I really want my life to be known for? What do I want my legacy to be?Sociologist Anthony Campolo tells about a study in which 50 people over the age of 95 were asked one question: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” Three things consistently emerged:If I had it to do over again, I would…
do more things that would live on after I am dead.If you want to create an intentional legacy, you need to rethink your priorities.
Start Living Today
I know a lot of people who are alive and well, but they’re not really living. They are waiting for their lives to be perfectbefore they even start the clock. They need to make living today their first priority.I heard Barbara Bush read this about the future, comparing it to a train ride:
We get onboard that train at birth, and wewant to cross the continent because we have in mind that somewhere out there is a station… We pass by cities and factories, but we don’t look at any of it because we want to get to the station… This station changes for us during life.To begin with, for most of us it’s turning 18, getting out of high school. Then the station is that first promotion, and thenthe station becomes getting the kids out of college, and then the station becomes retirement, and then… all too late werecognize this truth... there really isn’t a station. The joy is in the journey, and the journey is the joy.
What she is saying is so true. Focusing on the destination is not a good idea. Tomorrow may come; it may not. The onlyplace we really have any power is in the present. The simple truth is we are not to assume that we will live a long time.Life is brief. We need to take advantage of the time we are given today and enjoy the journey!
Live Life Fully
Too many people make their life an intermission. Instead, you need to make it a mission. John Wooden, the legendaryUCLA basketball coach, has been a close friend and mentor to me for some time, and he shared with me a lessonabout living life to the fullest that has stuck with me for years.Coach Wooden knew his players, and he could tell when they weren’t giving 100 percent at practice. Instead of callingthem out where everyone could hear, he would go over and put his arms around them and say, “I know you’re probablytired or you were up late studying for exams, and I know what you’re thinking. You think tomorrow you’ll come back andyou’ll give a little extra, and you’ll try to make up for what you didn’t do today. I just want you to understand you cannever give more than 100 percent. So if you give me 60 percent today, you can’t give me 140 percent tomorrow. If yougive 60 percent today, you leave 40 percent on the table. And you’ll never get it back.”When you come to the end of your life, I hope you have no regrets that you will have lived life to the fullest and doneeverything you can each day to make the most of your time on earth.
Live Life Thankfully
I like the statement that says life isn’t tied with a bow, but it is still a gift. Be grateful for what you have and where youare in your journey of life.On Dec. 18, 1998, I had a serious heart attack. That night, as I lay on the floor waiting for the ambulance, I remember thinking two things: First, I was too young to die. Second, I had not completed some of the things I wanted toaccomplish. Thanks to the medical care I received that night, my life was spared and with it came a new outlook for which I will be forever grateful.To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of this life-changing event, last December my wife, Margaret, and I went toAtlanta to have a dinner with the two doctors and their spouses, and during the dinner, I stood up and read them a one-page thank-you letter. I wanted to let them know the things I had done in those 10 years, thanks to their efforts to savemy life.Here’s the point I want to get across to you: When was the last time you wrote a note to somebody and said thanks?When was the last time you picked up the phone and told your family and friends how much they mean to you? Not onlymust you live life fully, but you must live it thankfully.