A few years ago I spoke at a conference in Washington. It was for men and women who serve in emergency services. I reminded these firefighters, first responders and EMTs of the value of their work, the impact of their efforts, and the ripple effect of their lives.
I also reminded them that as profound the impact they make on others, it’s important to note they didn’t get here by themselves. They had people who encouraged them, taught them, inspired them, mentored them and challenged them to do more than they thought possible.
Inviting the men and women to reflect on one person, I gave them a few minutes to share who that person was with those sitting closest to them.
After a few minutes of sharing, I gave them a simple challenge: Before you go to bed tonight, write a letter, send an email, shoot a text or make a call to whomever that person is. Tell her thank you. Share with him the impact he made. But do it today.
After the presentation, I signed books, shook hands, gave hugs and then flew a home.
Less than a week after speaking in Spokane, I got an email from a fire chief in a small community south of Tacoma. He shared that he was at the event. He shared he was totally moved by the experience. And he shared that he took my challenge to reach out to his first fire chief. This older chief had taught him how to lead, serve and love the people he served with. This chief changed his life.
They spoke from the conference that night, agreed to coffee on Thursday at which they spent two hours catching up, and then went their own ways. Before hopping into his truck, the young fire chief told his mentor, “Thank you, I love you, and you changed my life. Just wanted you to know it.”
Four days later, Sunday morning, this young man learned that the long-serving fire chief had a heart attack and died unexpectedly late Saturday night.
The email shared the pain of the loss, but more than that, the joy of sharing life and work with such a great man. And the incredible gift of letting the chief know before his death how much he mattered. [Click to Tweet.]
My friends, one of the heroes in my life, my grandfather, used to love the song, In the Living Years. He would roll down the windows in his old Lincoln, put the tape of it in, blare the sound and sing along. It’s a song about living, loving and sharing in a way today, right now, with such boldness knowing that tomorrow is not guaranteed. It isn’t promised to us. And it’s not promised to others.
So here is my Monday Morning Challenge to you: Spend a minute reflecting on individuals who have impacted your life.
Maybe parents, siblings, family members, teachers, pastors, bosses, coworkers, or neighbors who have challenged you to live up to the fullness of your potential.
Then today, right now in fact, take 30 seconds to call, tweet, post, text, email, send a freaking honing pigeon, do whatever, but let them know you appreciate them.
Let them know you love them. Let them see the astonishing light they they have provided for you, just by being them.
That your life is better today because they were part of it.
Stay on fire. The best is yet to come. Now go tell a friend!
Who are you contacting today to let them know they impacted your life? Please share with me and the Rising Above Community in the comments below.