Leaving A Legacy
My father-in-law recently died, and we have spent time focusing on who he was and the legacy he left. It was not the money or the career or the prestige that defined him. It was his faith, his family, his food, and his red socks. While his great-grandchildren won’t remember him as a person, they will see him every day in the family around them and in the faith and traditions that we observe. And they will probably learn to make Swedish rye bread and that red socks go with everything.
As business owners, we too are creating a legacy. Our businesses are known for more than what we sell or provide. Even though he never owned his own business, there are a few things I’ve learned from him that apply to our business journey.
My father-in-law’s faith was subtle. He was a man of action and he spoke volumes with his actions. He cared deeply about God, and it was extremely important to him that the people around him had a relationship with God as well. His faith guided the direction of his entire life. In the end, he was ready to say goodbye to his family and join his heavenly Father.
What drives your life? Is your faith an important part of your business? They can’t be separated. In the end, what will really matter? Does the way you run your business reflect who you really are?
He grew up during the depression. His financial outlook was forever changed by that. His carefulness and planning with money enabled him to live comfortably and get the care he needed in the end. His planning allows my mother-in-law to not worry about money to live as she faces the many challenges of being on her own after so many years together. He worried about his family as they spent money more freely than he ever did and wondered out loud if we were being wise. He would also give his grandkids coins from his pocket and taught them to work doing odd jobs for him for pay. (Of course, the pay was always WAY above the work level!)
Are you building the financial foundation for your business to thrive in later years? How are you helping your employee build their financial futures?
His passion for baking and bringing food on almost any occasion (or for no occasion) stemmed from wanting people to feel welcome and loved. And while you are eating together, you talk and learn and grow. Each Christmas he made dozens of loaves of Swedish Rye Bread and gave it out to almost everyone he knew. Over the years he made and gave away thousands of loaves. This became a special part of the Christmas tradition for many.
How are you building the relationships to strengthen your business (and your people)? What are you doing to enrich others?
His love of everything red endeared him to the ones around him. (Although I’m sure over the years there were loads of white laundry that accidentally turned red!) Even those who never knew him by name knew of the man that rode his red bike or wore his red socks almost every day. It became unusual when he didn’t wear red in some way or another. As a tribute, all of the men in the family wore red socks to the funeral. It was a touching tribute to a special man.
What’s your business known for? It may be unusual, and may not even be related to your business – but it does say something about who you are.
Go ahead, build an amazingly successful business, but remember that life you live matters.