Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

The Legacy We Leave

KiwanisA few years ago, I completed my terms as president of two great organizations – the Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Norman Kiwanis Club.  I enjoy the friends I have made in both and have continue to be involved.  It is customary in most associations to give some token to the outgoing chairman of the board or president.  In this case, both organizations stated during the outgoing ceremony that I likely had plenty of plaques already. They instead provided me an outgoing gift.  They were certainly right on target with the plaques!

I have plaques at the office and plaques on the wall at home.  I have plaques in the closet, some in the attic, and still others in a box in my dad’s attic at our farm.  I have no shortage of plaques. I still have the first recognition’s I ever received.  A blue ribbon for shooting the most free throws at basketball camp and a yellow fourth place for marksmanship at summer camp.  I pinned these to my bulletin board when I was a kid and beamed with pride when other kids asked me about them.   Incentives and rewards are important to drive people past what they thought was achievable.  Imagine any sport without a championship or the workplace without the “bonus.”  We are a competitive society that likes to win and we like to be recognized as the best of the best among our peers.

I read a story once about a man named James Dobson whose goal it was to become his school’s tennis champion.  He felt proud when the school placed his trophy prominently in the school’s glass trophy cabinet for all to see.  Years later, someone mailed him the trophy.  They had found it in a trash bin when the school was remodeled.  Jim realized, “Given enough time, all your trophies will be discarded by someone else.”    Plaques, rewards, and other incentives are important devices in motivating people to be their best.  In my lifetime of handing them out, I’ve heard many folks say, “I did not do what I did because of the award…”  And true as that may have been, no one ever handed me the plaque back.

1985 Rock Hill Jaycees- #1 Jaycee Chapter in S.C.

1985 Rock Hill Jaycees- #1 Jaycee Chapter in S.C.

All that being said, we should not lose perspective.  It is not what we receive for being the best but who we become by doing it.  What many fail to realize is all achievements will eventually be surpassed, all records broken, and reputations will eventually fade.  However, the lives we touch along the way and the difference we make in leaving this a better place than we found it will not..  And that is the legacy we leave.


March 13, 2009 - Posted by | Leadership Lessons | , , ,

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