Legacy is Lived Out Every Day - Part 2

You can Course Correct Now. Don’t Wait for a Major Wake-Up Call

Picture of by Dr David Phelps

by Dr David Phelps

This is the second week I will be discussing the topic of Legacy. If you haven’t read my previous blog on the impact you can have on those around you, you can read it here.

Last week we discussed how it is through your relationships that you can create the culture and the legacy you want to live out and leave behind.

And today my conversation with David McAlvany continues concerning the value of relationships, specifically in your family, and how a crisis can either be a catalyst for refinement or destruction.

Dr. David Phelps:

In your book “Intentional Legacy”, you wrote,

“It is nearly impossible for a 10-year-old to understand the pressure and the life of a father, but it's equally difficult for a father to peer into the heart of a 10-year-old and fully understand his need for affirmation and instruction. Confusion runs deep. I found myself growing resentful. There were just one too many missed hockey games.

Legacies, like confidence, can be lost through inattention. It's possible for parents to spend a lifetime creating wealth for children only to see the currency of their life's work devalued because they have lost the hearts of their children.”

That's so strong. You continue on.

“A small return in the life of a child can yield exponential results. Without attempting to quantify the value or even understand it, a child has the capacity to receive and benefit from input at levels uncommon in adults.”

That really resonated with me in understanding the dynamics between a child and his/her parents.

These excerpts from McAlvany’s The Intentional Legacy highlight the value of investing in your relationships with your children or vice versa, your parents. There can be so much confusion and expectations that were not met on either side due to a lack of attention, lack of communication, and missed opportunities. This serves as a wake-up call to fight for the hearts of your children, reaffirm your relationship, and begin to connect with them to create that strong bond.

Dr. David Phelps:

My daughter is 30 now, but she went through a lot of the same thinking when I was trying to be that breadwinner, similar to your situation with Mary Catherine, fighting cancer, and how that emotionally and physically changes the dynamics very quickly. On the other side of crises, with God’s grace, there is another day and there can be benefits/advantages. Do you want to speak about that?

David McAlvany:

We all encounter crises, whether it's a health crisis, financial crisis, or a variety of things that we experience in the course of life. How we respond to it is pretty important. A crisis will blow you up or it'll grow you up, and you have the opportunity to choose. I found that I understood love perhaps for the first time in a real way, instead of an immature way, after Mary Catherine was diagnosed with cancer and it grew us up. It drew us together.

There's a way of looking at a crisis that was explored earlier today as it relates to our finances. If you're not thinking ahead, if you're not navigating the narrows, you can find yourself on your heels and unable to deal with it. Or you can be very productive – Things can happen that are almost magical. 

Relationally, that is what we experienced. Some of the biggest crises in the financial markets have also been where the most wealth has been made. So it goes both ways. How you navigate and the mindset that you keep make a difference. Some of that is just keeping a clear head when others are losing theirs.

“Blow up or grow up”. Those are the options we have when presented with a crisis. Yes, we can prepare and mitigate the intensity of some crises or even avoid some altogether but we will always be faced with challenges in our lives. There’s no avoiding them. The question is, how will you react?

Will you allow fear, what you don’t know, or loss – paralyze you? Or will you make the most of it? Learn from it. Take the experience and turn it into your advantage. Your opportunity for growth. Take it as a moment to realize what’s really important to you and make the changes to go after it. These pivotal moments might turn out to be a much needed wake up call.

Dr. David Phelps:

You speak about wake-up calls as I do. Sometimes they are so subtle that we don't recognize them as the instruction we might need in our own lives. We put them aside sometimes because it might take a larger wake up call to draw our attention. There are wake-up calls that perhaps we’re not paying attention to. We try to put them aside and let them go, meaning we let that instruction go. What additional insights could you give about noticing and responding to those wake-up calls that could otherwise save us from pain in the future?

David McAlvany:

I think of my dad and a trip that we were on in South Africa. He was 40 at the time, younger than me by eight years. He was giving a lecture. When he lectured, he would speak for four to six hours. There was something different about the constitution of an audience. There were no coffee breaks and you just kind of sat there and shifted side to side uncomfortably for however long.

But afterward, a doctor came up to him and said, “I need to talk to you. The color of your skin and your eyes tell me that you have significant liver pressure and liver issues. I'm going to guess that you have 15, 20 cups of coffee a day and probably a few cocktails just to kind of ease into the evening off of that caffeinated high. Your adrenals are shot and I'm just telling you, you're not long for the world if you don't change things.” My dad is hard-charging. He has all the energy he could ever ask for, a little hyperdrive from the coffee.

I think what I love about my dad is that he's never been one to be defensive. He's always been open to learning. At that moment he wasn't like, “Who are you anyway? What are your credentials?” I don't think he even knew the guy was a doctor, but he just listened, took it in, and then ultimately, he did go see that guy the next day and it set him on a path of health. He's now 82. His dad died at 49. His grandfather died at 51. He assumed that he'd be dead at 50. Maybe that's why he was so hard-charging – Get it in while you can. He's 82 today, strong as an ox, lifts weights three times a week.

There was this wake-up call and he was willing to change things. He was willing to listen and say, “My diet's got to be different. I guess I should exercise. Maybe I shouldn't have 20 cups of coffee and two cocktails just to kind of balance out the uppers.” I love him for that, that he's willing to listen. I think that opportunity is presented in our own lives. There are different times in our lives when if you have a wake-up call, do something with it. Do something with it.

Sometimes, we don’t pay attention to the smaller wake-up calls until we hit one that is unavoidable. It could be health, business, spouse, or children.

For me, it was the health crisis of my daughter, Jenna. It wasn’t until I was in her hospital room, after a life-saving liver transplant, after years of epileptic seizures and high-risk leukemia, that I had my moment of truth. This was my wake-up call. I decided to leave dentistry and focus on my Plan B which would give me the space and freedom to spend more time with Jenna. 

In some cases there are warning signs that we often shrug off, thinking it’s not worth our attention or it won’t be relevant down the road. I would take David McAlvany’s advice seriously. Listen. Be open to what people say to you. Pay attention to the signs that hint to an upcoming crisis or challenge. And do something about it. Respond to it, don’t just move on. 

Wake up calls are usually an opportunity for a major course correction. A correction that may define one’s journey and one’s legacy.

We’ll discuss more on the investment side of legacy next week.

Wake up calls are usually an opportunity for a major course correction. A correction that may define one’s journey and one’s legacy.

To your freedom!

– David


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