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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie


It's a matter of when, not if

Today is Labor Day in the United States – a day of rest and relaxation away from our workplaces. As I write this on the Thursday before the long holiday weekend, I’m excited for three days away from the daily grind.

While I feel (and, most days, dress) like I’m 19, the reality is I’ll turn 53 later this year. The recent parade of graduations, weddings, and funerals over the past 24 months means I’ve hit “that” age where I need to face that I’m now in the autumn of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have a long way to go before I plan on leaving this planet, but I’d be lying if I haven’t thought more about my mortality as of late.

This thinking came to a head after the passing of my friend, Brian Jolin, from colon cancer this summer. He was younger than me, full of life, and, despite the unfairness of his diagnosis and death, left a legacy of kindness, passion for his beliefs, and a wicked sense of humor. Of course, he also left a legacy of loving the sadness that is candy corn, but we all have our faults.

Whether we realize it or not, our everyday actions create a legacy that will outlive us. When it’s all said and done, people won’t remember the frivolous things we all stress over: what we wear, how we look, how much we weigh, or even how many possessions we acquire. People will ultimately remember how you made them feel when they were around you.

Before I go much further, let me be clear: no one is perfect – not you, me, or anyone. I’ve always tried to be kind, but many times I’ve been a complete jerk to people. I’ve always done my best when leading and managing people but have made dreadful mistakes that I still beat myself up about. I strive to be a shining example of what it means to be a father to my two boys but have fallen well short of that on many occasions. I aspire to be the husband my wife deserves even though, more times than not, I’m the husband she’s stuck with.

As I wrote above, everyday actions create your legacy. Today, I’m going to take some time to honestly think about the legacy I want to leave my family, friends, business associates, and clients, to name a few. The fact is, leaving this planet is a factor of when not if. Time remains undefeated, and I genuinely believe if we all start thinking about the legacy we will leave behind, our work will be better, our relationships will be richer, and our time on Earth will be just a bit more extraordinary.

I don’t intend this blog to be heavy. On the contrary, I feel this little missive is about being intentional with how I want to live my life and how I treat others. To create the legacy I want, I know I need to be more present, see things that are hidden, hear things that are unspoken, and enjoy every moment - and I'll continue to strive to do exactly that.

What legacy will you leave behind?

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