My Greatest Challenges helped shape who I am today.
I am acutely aware of how my greatest challenges helped shape who I am today: growing up living in fear of my father, being kicked out of my house for standing up to him, being estranged from my parents for 15 years thereafter, struggling to make ends meet while going to college and then law school, the surreal experience of 9-11, the economic crash of 2008 and the serious financial struggles that followed, becoming a father, my first wife leaving literally out of the blue, having to move several times while trying to restart my life, the misery of working in a big law firm, launching my own business while going through a divorce, the custody battle that followed and ongoing challenges of “co-parenting.”
These were all “unprecedented” times in my life. These are all part of my story, my legacy.
We do not control what happens to us. Everyone has a story to tell when it comes to the unique challenges they have faced, the external circumstances that have been so unfairly thrust upon them with seemingly intentional disregard for timing.
Too often, it is when you are down that you feel most kicked. The only peace you can find in these moments is through gracefully surrendering to whatever has happened, and holding close to your heart the faith that everything will be alright. That surrender is a choice.
“While I may not be able to control what happens to me, I can control how I respond and what I do in the moment.”
I have come to realize and accept that the only thing I have any control over is myself. While I may not be able to control what happens to me, I can control how I respond and what I do in the moment. In fact, that is exactly what our legacies are: stories of how we have responded to life, the choices we made and the lessons we learned, what we ultimately stood for and believed in because of (or despite) those circumstances and experiences, and the relationships we formed and people we impacted along the way.
Our Greatest Assets
These are our greatest assets—not our traditional “financial” assets, but our human and creative assets. These are the assets we should be seeking to grow more than out financial portfolios. These are the assets that will have the greatest impact on our children and future generations, as well as culture and society—who we are, not what we own.
We now find ourselves collectively in an unprecedented time. The good news is, unlike so many of the life challenges you may have already faced and which have shaped you so far, no one of us is in this alone. We have each other. Now is the time to invest in and with our human capital. This global pandemic is happening to all of us and it will be part of each of our legacies. Your traditional financial assets can do very little in this time and, in fact, many have lost money because the markets have all been negatively affected. Now is the time to use your human assets to define your legacy. Now is the time you can invest in and grow your human capital through this experience.
“Control what you can—your actions, your words—and surrender gracefully to the results.”
It is these unprecedented times that define us. What do you want your legacy to be? In order to take control of the situation you must take control of yourself.
Think: how do you want to respond?
Then act. Talk to your children. Talk to your neighbors and friends. Share your truth from this experience. Invest your human capital in others. Control what you can—your actions, your words—and surrender gracefully to the results.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to think about a legacy plan.
If you are having trouble taking control and responding intentionally and purposefully to this crisis, it is probably because you do not have an organized way of navigating life events. You do not have a blueprint for your success and a framework through which you make major life decisions. You are probably uncertain of your life’s purpose and are unaware of your true potential and value to the world. You most likely do not have an adequate team to fully support you and you most definitely do not have a process and discipline of making sure you are focused on what matters most—your own happiness and human fulfillment.
If ever there was a time to reassess our values, it is now.
Who you are and the impact you have on the world are by far your most unique and valuable assets, and fully deploying them will forever bring you the greatest joy. Perhaps more importantly, in addition to your estate, you will then be able to leave your children a treasure trove of human and creative assets that can be invested in creating opportunities for your children.
Your legacy will serve to propel the next generation forward and to help them uncover and achieve their own life’s purpose and to find their own happiness and human fulfillment.