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Purpose and Passion Build Legacy

Legacy is the unintentional outcome of intentionally engaging in repeated acts of purpose or passion that result in positive outcomes over time.  OR:  Legacy is what happens when you do good things for good reasons, over and over again. Businesses are rarely started with intent to build a legacy. Likewise, most people don’t live their lives thinking intentionally about the legacy they may leave.

Yet, in business and in life, time and passion for ones’ purpose can create a legacy that impacts others for good, in small and large ways.

Bill Gates is a prominent example of a business owner who built a legacy by staying hyper focused on growing his young computer software company. The success of Microsoft allowed him to create the Gates Foundation, which has given nearly $30 billion dollars to support charitable causes around the world since its inception in 2008.

Gates is now building a legacy of bettering lives through education and health care for children and mothers.

Yet, legacies are not only built with millions of dollars. Legacy is created when the passion and purpose of an intentional person brings about positive change in the lives of others. And that can be achieved in carrying out a simple hobby, making a decision for good, or in meeting a recognized need.

This beautiful bleeding heart is a descendant of one that grew in my grandmother’s southern Minnesota backyard in the 1960’s. The offspring of this hearty perennial has grown in my gardens now for nearly two decades, taken from a shoot my mom took years before that.

Though lovely to see, the deeper beauty of the flowering plant lies in how it represents a nearly 50 year legacy of nurturing, wrapped up in a love of gardening passed down from generation to generation.

On the same weekend the bleeding heart bloomed, our middle son graduated from college. His diploma represents the typical amount of hard work and academic discipline required to earn a degree. But Erick’s college journey was far from ordinary.

His greatest achievement was not giving up in the face of repeated adversity - two significant illnesses and a near fatal bike accident created a mountain of pain, anger and uncertainty about his purpose in life. In the face of so many obstacles, college seemed a pointless effort at the time.

Happily, Erick persevered, grabbing onto future opportunity by staying in school. He finished with a confidence born out of meeting hardship head on, repeatedly making choices that have become a part of his own legacy – finding purpose by enduring through pain, adapting in the face of unexpected circumstances, and choosing to go on when he didn’t want to.

Finally, the story of selfless mentor Joe Horan made its way to our local media last week. Horan, a middle school PE teacher, is creating a living legacy in the lives of students who participate in Building Men , an afterschool basketball program he started in 2006. Building Men is a sports program with a deeper intent of teaching life lessons of relationships, achievement, and believing in self.

Recognizing the lack of positive messages in the lives of the adolescents he taught each day, Horan founded Building Men, where participants play basketball after they attend ‘chalk talk’ meetings. There, Horan and other speakers listen to the boys’ concerns and share messages of sportsmanship, character, and community service.

More than 200 kids have attended Building Men since 2006, and most have graduated from high school. Horan is building a legacy kid by kid, meeting a need placed right in front of him.

Whether we know it or not, our actions in life and in business have the potential to create legacy. If we pursue with passion and a sense of purpose, each of us can leave a legacy worthy of passing down to others.

Find your passion and purpose, then get going to find your way to a legacy.