The Price Required To Leave A Leadership Legacy

 comments regularly on this site.  I always enjoy his thoughts because his words are pithy, insightful, and always make me think.  His viewpoints as an Italian-American from the Northeast are quite unique.  I developed a kinship with him last fall as he discussed how the issues surrounding Joe Paterno went far beyond coaching and how the scandal was affecting Italian-Americans.

Recently, I was moved by an inspirational post he wrote about his immigrant grandparents and what they faced when they arrived in America.  It is an amazing story which I am glad to pass along to you.  You should priortize connecting with Joe regularly at his site Not Your Average Joe.  Now, on to this amazing post!

“I’ve read a concept a couple of times recently about the most valuable land on earth being the graveyard: because with all of those people are buried unfulfilled dreams, unwritten novels, masterpieces not created, businesses not started, relationships not reconciled.

While that is something impossible to quantify, you can be sure that it’s got a ring of truth. We all know people that are still alive that have all but abandoned any dream they once had. Going through life on a day to day, paying their bills, nothing more, nothing less.

I love the days of the week named Monday and Friday. As sure as the sun rises and sets each day, you can listen to your workmates curse the one day, and thank God for the other.

Why is one day of the week any different than the other? Because people want to escape their boring jobs, and on a grander scale, their monotonous lives.

And some pass away with having done just the chores of birth, school, work, and retirement with nothing else to show for it.

It’s a waste. You and I have more potential than that.

A couple of years ago, my best friend at work decided to fulfill a dream to join the military. She chose to face the rigors of boot camp and the chance of deployment to the Middle East than spend her life in a cubicle.

Most thought she was a little insane. Some of us, myself included, perceived her to be brave, smart, and unwilling to settle. She may have been the most sane out of everyone.

The situation reminded me of the Morgan Freeman quote from one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. You remember it, right?

“I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But, the place you live in is that much more grey.”

To fulfill a dream, no matter how small, should always be a focus of your life, in addition to all those “chores” to be completed to live in the moment and support your family.  We don’t do this because of the bugaboo of fear.

Fear Strikes Out

I break this kind of fear into two categories: the fear of failure, and the fear of rejection. I have a career in sales, so rejection is something I deal with daily. Some prospects just don’t want to talk to me. And when you lose a sale that you’ve worked on for any length of time, that’s when the failure bit comes into play.

It’s OK to have these types of fears. Everyone does. But they need to be managed so they don’t stand in the way of your entire existence.

Strangers In A Strange Land

I can’t think of anyone that should have been more fearful than my grandmother, when she and her family emigrated from Sicily to come to this country, looking for opportunity. She:

  • was leaving the only home she ever knew
  • had limited education at that point
  • had a language barrier she struggled to overcome
  • didn’t know anyone in America
  • didn’t have an immediate place to live
  • had to endure processing with arrival here
  • was just a teenager thrust into a strange land!

How did all those fears wind up affecting her throughout her life? She had her bumps in the road, and very painful experiences in later years, but she and my grandfather certainly lived their version of the American dream. They:

  • Got factory jobs and proved themselves to be quickest, most efficient workers
  • Ran successful businesses in not one, but two, restaurants
  • Built a house and paid cash for it
  • Put the house on an expanse of land that featured fruit trees and large gardens
  • Took a dream trip back to their homeland for vacation
  • Survived very hard times, starting with the Great Depression
  • Were married for over six decades
  • Were mentors and teachers for many (including myself)

Pretty impressive stuff, in my opinion. Fear can be a killer, but my grandparents refused to let it stand in their way.

Burning Clocks

The subject of my last post, Bruce Springsteen, set out to write a song about the demolition of the old Giants Stadium. He instead came up with an anthem about fighting back hard times and the ultimate decay of our lives.

In Wrecking Ball, the lyrics of the song ring out “When your game has been decided, and you’re burning the clock down…”

Folks, life is short. The game has nearly been decided. Our clock is burning down. It’s hard to take action on the truly important because of the all of the little things that need to be done. As my cousin once said, “Life gets in the way”.

Make a point to push it out of the way.

In 50, 60, 70 years from now, none of us will be here. No one will remember, and no one will care whether you lived your life just paying the bills and watching reality tv, or if you chased something that stoked your fire.

Even historical greats like Lincoln and Edison are now a blip on the radar screen. Unless you cure cancer or eradicate poverty, you will be too. So what’s stopping you?

Seriously, if my two little, tiny Italian grandparents can come to America and create their own world with all their obstacles, what excuse can the rest of us possibly have?”

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About briand@injoystewardship.com

3 Responses to “The Price Required To Leave A Leadership Legacy”

  1. Joe on 23/05/2012 #

    Brian, thanks again for choosing my post to feature on the blog. As I’ve said before, my immigrant grandparents are a huge inspiration to my writing, thoughts, and my day to day life. I thank them for the appreciation and gratitude that I feel for everything I have. They were true role models!

  2. Joseph Lalonde on 23/05/2012 #

    Joe, great post! Your ending was perfect.

    It’s funny how we come up with so many excuses on why we can’t do this or do that. Yet we have immigrants like your grandparents who came here and made something of nothing.

    That same opportunity is available to us today. What’s holding us back?

    • Joe on 24/05/2012 #

      Joe, thanks for the comment, and for your support on Twitter. The post is just the tip of the iceberg. My grandparents, as well as other family members, did absolutely incredible things to make their way in this country. I have a hard time measuring up myself. :)

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