I will never forget attending the funeral of a man I had known for over 25 years. One by one, people shared stories of how he had touched their lives. His 75 years on this earth were well recorded with memories of his generosity, kindness, loyalty and love. As I glanced over to see how his wife was holding up I could see that she was filled with joy to hear how her husband’s greatest investments in life were paying off.
When we hear the word “investment” we automatically think in terms of money. However, there are other things in life we can invest with the hope of experiencing a significant return. Far too many people find themselves at the end of their life realizing that those things they invested their time, talents and resources in had little, if any, meaningful impact.
Maybe the simplest way to put it is this: If you spend your life only investing in your own pleasure and pursuits your legacy will die with you. None of us want to get to the end of life and think that maybe our existence didn’t matter very much. As I have said many times, you are intrinsically valuable simply because God made you, but it is still possible to miss out on opportunities to multiply your positive impact on the people and the world around you. It’s the investment in other people that will expand your “footprint” in the world and live on after you have gone. At my friend’s funeral, it was so apparent that he had left a legacy in so many lives and that he had made a difference whenever and wherever he had opportunity.
While thinking about the end of life can be sad, I hope you see it as an exciting challenge. We all know that our time on earth is brief, so let’s make the very most of it!
As you live each day, no matter what your age, give thought to where you are placing your investments. Are you spending time with your family? They are the people you are most closely connected to by birth, adoption or choice. There is a reason you were born to your particular parents and related to the others. They may be your primary opportunity for investment. Friends, coworkers, acquaintances and even strangers can also benefit from your investment of respect, kindness and time.
Do you help those less fortunate than yourself? One of the most rewarding investments you can make is to give to someone who cannot repay you. Life gives us all opportunity to either “pay back” or “pay forward” when we receive a blessing. Don’t miss those opportunities by spending all of your time, money and resources on yourself. Generosity will give you satisfaction today and a lasting legacy later.
We want to hear from you. Who are the people who have invested in your life? Was it a teacher, coach, neighbor, employer, friend or family member? How are you investing in others? Are you compelled to correct injustices? Do you consistently offer help, compassion and care for others in tangible ways?
It’s important to remember that a life lived selfishly will leave little evidence that it ever happened, but one that is invested in the lives of others will reap returns that can last forever.
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.