Tombstone

Gerwig 2014-07-30

This week has been fun! I took a few days off from work to celebrate my 28th wedding anniversary with my wife. Our daughter left from Charleston, South Carolina for church camp in Florida (with 3,000 other students!) and we decided to make an early anniversary out of it.

First, can I say that that 3,000 students in Daytona Beach, Florida is crazy! And I’m jealous. My wife and I worked with middle school, high school and college students for 20 years as discipleship leaders. Though we are no longer involved in student ministries directly, I’m always jealous (in a positive way) when summer rolls around and everyone goes to camp. I know they’ll have an amazing time!

Though we’re currently living in Kentucky, our daughter is going to camp with a church from South Carolina (it’s a long story and a tale for another time). So we drove down from Lexington to drop off our daughter (and cousin) in Charleston. It was a great excuse to spend some time in Charleston celebrating an early anniversary.

It’s worth noting that Charleston is kinda in our blood. We met in Beaufort, South Carolina thirty-one years ago and spent a lot of time in Charleston as it’s an amazing city and is only a short drive north of Beaufort. We had a couple early dates in Charleston strolling along the Battery, visiting tourist attractions, taking buggy rides and eating out-of-this world food.

Later, while still in college, I worked in Charleston for a couple semesters, took classes at night, surfed at Folly Beach and tried to learn my way around all the one-way streets. I picked up a couple traffic tickets in the process but overall I had an incredible time.

After graduating from college, we drove back regularly to visit my parents in Beaufort and, of course, made regular jaunts to Charleston on these visits. Still later, when one of our sons was going to college in South Carolina, we watched him play lacrosse against teams in Charleston. I was even lucky enough to once manage a plant located in Charleston that I visited every couple weeks.

We have our favorite restaurants (many more are being added every year), our favorite hotels and B&B’s, our favorite tourist attractions and so forth. There is even a campus of our church located in Charleston that we visit when we’re in town.

One of the nice things about Charleston is that it constantly surprises. New restaurants pop up. Old places continually innovate and add new offerings. There are old (by U.S. standards) sites and new hot-spots. Upper King Street continues to surprise and impress (quite unlike when when I was a college student).

It had been several months since we’d visited Charleston and we found ourselves enjoying new restaurants and sites as we toured the city. Yes, it was hot and humid! And yes, the next day was temperate with low humidity. Go figure! All-in-all, the two days we spent in a Charleston this week were amazing. Great food, fascinating history, beautiful sites, and incredible people-watching.

In all seriousness, there are many amazing cities around the world and I’m, by no means, saying Charleston should be on the top of everyone’s list. But for us, it’s a pretty incredible place. The more I visit, the more I appreciate it and the richer the experience becomes. Sometimes, the more you get to know a place, the less attractive you find it. The opposite has been my experience with Charleston. The more I get to know it and the more time I spend there, the more appealing it becomes.

As we were walking to one of the historic sites this week, we stopped to walk through an old cemetery that happened to contain the graves of several famous people, including a signer of the Declaration Independence (this is Charleston after all). The cemetery contained all types of tombstones and, undoubtedly, all kinds of people.

Though I’m willing to bet that everyone (or nearly everyone) buried in that little cemetery was famous or came from a family with money, I highly doubt that all were of spotless character. Most likely, there were good people and bad. Those who put others first and those who did not.

And as I walked around, I began reflecting on my life. What kind of legacy would I leave? What impact would I make during my few short years on this earth? How would I make difference to future generations?

And those are the same questions you should be asking yourself whether you’re 15 years old or 85 years young. What will your legacy be? If you knew you only had a few years or months to live, would your priorities change? Are you too preoccupied with your daily schedule to contemplate the long run?

I hope that you will take some time today to think about your legacy regardless of what’s ultimately written on your tombstone. How did you live? What impact did you make? How did you serve others? What value did you add? Were you a good dad? A good wife? A good worker and neighbor?

For me, the walk through the cemetery reminded me that my time here is short. Whether another day or another 50 years, my time is minuscule compared with eternity. I’m choosing to make each day count. Are you?

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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