One at a time I called each team member to the stage. As they made their way to the stage I told a story about a favorite Family tradition they had shade with me earlier.
One story from that day has stuck with me. It was the story about Will Harris.
His tradition was a warm and tender story about how his family celebrated Christmas morning. I noticed the gentle smile come across Will's face as I shared with the audience how Will and his wife spent precious time with their small children in the early hours of Christmas day.
Saddly, this story takes a tragic turn from there. One week later on Christmas morning I received a text message from my team indicating that Will Harris had passed away. Suddenly, without warning he was gone.
The news was devastating to say the least. As I sat quietly with my own family surrounded by the visible reminders of Christmas, I was overwhelmed with the thought of Will’s young family.
Less than a week later we held a small memorial at our office to celebrate the life of Will Harris. It was a time for several team members, along with his family, to gather together to relive the stories of the full life of Will.
Quietly, I reflected on what was being said from the back of the room. In this overflowing room of people, multiple stories were told about how Will impacted the lives of others. He passionately demanded the best of himself and others around him. We laughed, cried and sat quietly as person after person told a story of life.
Two weeks later as I sit in my study I cannot help but think about those stories of life. As times like this often do, I have found myself reflecting, more than once, about the story being told about me and what would be the story told after I am gone.
You must understand that life is just a series of short stories. We produce the content of these stories each and every day with every action we take and encounter we make. Chapter by chapter we craft the larger story of our life.
We should remind ourselves each day that everyone has a story. By not fully understanding the season of life a person is going through it is possible to misread another person's story. We unknowingly, pass judgement upon others when we misread their story.
Each person that comes across our path has a unique story to tell. The question we should ask our self is this, are we going to take the time to learn their story or are we just going to fill in the pages for them?
Several months ago I challenged a group of our key leaders with three simple, yet profound questions, for them to reflect upon. These questions were intended to push their thinking as leaders to a level we don't normally seek as leaders. The questions are:
- What matters most to you?
- What is the story being told about you today?
- What is the legacy you wish to leave?
As I reflect on my own story there are a few thoughts that I have jotted down, mostly as a reminder for myself, but hopefully they are an encouragement to others that should find their way to this blog.
- When you discover your passion in life pursue it with extreme focus. Caution: Choose wisely!
- Share your appreciation for others each and every time you come in contact with them. Caution: Never take tomorrow for granted.
- We write our story through the sharing of our gifts and talents with others to benefit a greater purpose. It is through our sharing we help to strengthen others while writing new chapters in our own life story. Caution: Choosing to hold back your gifts and talents can weaken others and weaken your own story.
- When you strengthen others you produce mutual encouragement which further contributes to the greater good. Caution: Choosing not to strengthen others can lead to discouragement.
- When our focus is on others the stories we help write have the power to transform generations. A single transformed life leads to a transformed world. Caution: Focusing only inward will tend to "deform" your long term story.
Weeks later Will is still impacting lives. The chapters of his life will be talked about for some time to come. Will is missed but his story goes on. He has challenged me to be the best version of my self. That was the story of his life and it remains his life story today!
Thank you Will Harris!