What is your Legacy?

PREFACE: I’ve had this blog on my mind all week.  It’s been a while since I have written and I was thinking of this very topic as my first after so long.  I had 90% of this writing complete and saved it as a draft this morning.  As I sat in church today, my pastor began speaking and I realized that his topic today was exactly in line with this very article.  He spoke of realizing  your purpose in life and leaving something to the world long after you are gone.  It’s times like these when I know that the work I do and the writings I share with the world are meant to occur.

Two Most Important DaysThis week I was watching “The Voice” and a song called “See you again” is being performed by Wiz Khalifa. The inspiring words are at the start:

It’s been a long day without you, my friend

And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again

We’ve come a long way from where we began

Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again

When I see you again

So many thoughts came to mind as I listen to these words. The one core though that stayed in my mind was how that, so many times in life, the moment is gone before we even realize it was happening.  It reminded me of another phrase that I heard just yesterday once again:

“Life is what happens while we are making plans”

Why are we unable to cherish and enjoy those special times in life to the fullest?  Maybe it’s because the world is getting faster before our eyes. We’ve gone from having computers on our desk and laps to having them in our hands and wearing them on our wrists.  Everything is at a faster pace than ever before in history.

But as I thought about the great people I’ve gotten to spend my life with – especially my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents – I’m reminded of what things I remember when I reminisce about the days of the past.  And then I’m reminded of the legacy that was left to me; the lessons I’ve learned; the stories that I have been able to tell; and the experiences that have shaped my life to what it is today.

Then I’m reminded of one of my personal core values that I learned first from Stephen Covey: “To Live, To Love, To Leave a Legacy“.

It may sound crazy, but one of the many things I must ensure that I accomplish in life is to leave a legacy. To be remembered for something.  To stay in the minds of others long after I am gone.

What is your legacy?  What are you hoping to accomplish in this life that you want others to remember you by?  Is it a book? Is it a charity event or effort? Is it helping others in need? Is it a great invention? Is it to help grow your company or organization? Is it to start your own company? Is it to provide a memory to your children and grandchildren of core values and a purpose in life? Or is it something even more large that changes the world forever?

We all have the potential. And we all have the same amount of time every day. Zig Ziglar stated that “We all have 24 hours in a day“. What are you doing with your days to leave your legacy?

I’ve learned that as we grow older new things become more important than others. I’ve learned many of the basic core goals of my life in just the last few years.  I feel confident in telling you that when you realize what your goals, your aspirations, and your legacy encompasses, you will know it with clarity.

I would love to hear from you, reader, and what are your plans for leaving a legacy? Your life is important. Have you found your purpose?  What is your purpose?  How do you want to be remembered?

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Time Does NOT Equal Money!

time is moneyHow many times have we heard the phrase “Time is Money”.  While I get what is being said, it’s far from the truth.

I’ve had plans to write on this topic for some time, and while surfing the internet, I found one with all the same points already out there.  I encourage you to check out this blog/article – it makes a lot of sense!

http://spearsmarketing.com/1302/time-money/

Zig Ziglar once said “you have never heard someone on their deathbed saying ‘I wish I had worked more hours'”.

We should all evaluate our lives and determine where we can give time back to ourselves and our families – and to the things that matter most in life.  Work hard, give 110%, but look around you and determine where you are wasting time and focus on giving certain tasks and ownership away so that you get back the time you are losing every day.

As the article states, you can make more and more money.  Even when you run out of money, you can start making it again.  But once time is gone, it’s over.  There is no regaining lost time.

Spend your time wisely – it’s an investment that does not return equally to you.  The benefits of how you spend your time will be returned to you in family and friends who see the value of your time management.  It will be returned to you in children who admire you for the efforts you make to spend valuable time with them instead of wasting it on things that have no value.  It will be returned to you in finding the right career or opportunity that will allow you to maximize your time doing the things you love in your work and career, and giving you back time to do those things that are most important.

The clock is ticking….what are you doing today to change tomorrow?

 

This is Mike Lyles and I Approve This Message: One Lovely Blog Award

I have been so pleasantly surprised with “The Lovely Blog” Award from a writer whom I have followed for some time, Brianna Boedeker.  To be given this award by someone who writes so many great articles was extremely humbling to me.  And I want to begin this blog by thanking Brianna for such a great honor!

A few years ago, I watched a movie called Slumdog Millionaire.  The essence of this movie was that everyone was surprised that this young man in India was able to answer all of the questions required in a “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” game show.  As you watch the movie, you realize that his life has prepared him for the trivia questions that he so easily answers.  This had an impact on my thinking as I watched this movie, and even today, I feel strongly that every event in our lives prepare us for where we are going – each of them setting up the next events that will take us closer to the memories of our lives.

Therefore, I would like to share with you a few of the events that have laid the foundation for the place where I stand today.  Here goes…..

  • It began in a hospital in Elkin, North Carolina on August 29, 1971.  I am sure I can tell this story in full detail, because my mom has reminded me of it many times.  When I was born, as with most of the events in my life, I didn’t follow the conventional ways.  Instead of arriving head first, I decided to land on my feet in the world – and at 6pm on 8/29/71, the first leg arrived into the world.  The issue was that the rest of me didn’t want to move.  The doctor took one look and informed my mom that my ginormous head was stuck around her ribcage and he was going to complete my entry into the world with one quick jerk.  When he did this, my mom’s rib was broken and she literally came close to giving her own life to give mine to me.  I owe a lot to my mom who has sacrificed a lot for me for many years.
  • At the age of 7, while returning from a family wedding, I sat down at a piano and played a wedding song with no music.  Astonished family and friends decided I should be a pianist, and for the next 9 years, I would take piano lessons.  Through the years following that time, I have played the piano for over 50+ weddings, even played the piano for my 8th grade graduation, and many other events.  It’s hard to explain, because I hear something and then I can play it – no idea how it works, but playing the piano has been a passion of mine ever since 7 years old.

  •  In 6th grade, 1983, at the age of 11, I took a computer certification course on a shiny “new” Apple II/e computer.  I knew, on that day, that my career would be wrapped around a computer in some way.  I told everyone that I would someday be a ‘computer programmer’!

  • In the following years, when other kids played with toys, I bought and programmed on a Commodore 64 computer.  Kids today don’t even know what a ‘monitor’ is, since computers are usually laptops, tablets, or the system is all internal to the monitor.  But, back in this day, the Commodore 64 didn’t even come with a monitor.  You connected it to your TV.  And there was no hard drive – I used a cassette tape drive to record my programs.  I surely was a geek.
  • In both 8th and 12th grade, as superlatives were nominated, I received the “Most Dependable Boy” award.   I took this “title” very seriously.  It made me always want to be a dependable person – in school, career, and life.
  • In college, I discovered a passion to help others.  Becoming a tutor for various courses and students, I not only got paid for the work, but realized how satisfying it was to help others learn something, and to coach and mentor others to grow.  One valuable thing that I learned from being a tutor was that not everyone learns the same way.  You have to work hard to find the approach that maps to a personality in order to get through and make an impact.
  • In 1993, I graduated from college and was ready for the world – but, apparently, the world was not ready for me.  A career in computer science was hard to find and job searching became a painful process.  I was in a no win situation – everyone wanted experienced people, but I needed a job to gain experience.  Anyone who knows me today knows that I have a passion for helping others find work.  When someone approaches me to help them with finding a job, I take it very serious, and I remember that back in 1993, needed a job myself!
  • After a few months of job seeking, I met one of the greatest bosses I would ever have in my career.  Nate Nixon, a retired executive, was building his own development company.  Nate took a chance and became the first person to have faith in my career abilities.  I could not have asked for a better opportunity in my life.  Instead of learning all the technical details of the real world of computer programming, I learned valuable soft skills on how to deal with employees, customers, and coworkers.  I will never forget those days with Nate and the great respect that I had for him.
  • In 1994, I joined a hometown company, Lowe’s as a tech support engineer.  Soon afterwards, I would become a programmer.   For almost a decade, I would be part of core efforts to build systems for Lowe’s stores.
  • In 2003, I became a manager of many development teams, and I found so much joy in helping others to start and/or grow their careers in development.  And I learned that you can achieve so many things if you put together a strong team.  I also realized that a team can do so much more than one person alone – if you have the right people in the right places.
  • During my development career and as a manager of developers, I worked with many testing efforts and tools for quality assurance.  I took courses in test management, and began to learn all that I could about improving the quality of work.  When my company created a QA group in 2008, I joined this team immediately.  This, to me, was one of the major turns in my life that would be integral to where I am today!
  • Matt's Note On TwitterSo I joined Twitter, and I placed on my Twitter profile that I had a passion for writing, wishing to write a book someday, and that I was in a QA/Testing role.  Out of nowhere, I am contacted by Matt Heusser, who would tell me that he is a writer for a testing magazine, and would like to interview me in a monthly column called “Ask the Tester”.  What a surprise and honor for me.  I was in my first published magazine in March 2012.
  • So many wonderful things have happened since that article.  I have written two articles for the same magazine, one newsletter, and in October 2012, I was a speaker at the STP Conference in Miami, Florida.  I realized how energizing and special it was to stand in front of others and tell a story and/or teach them something new.  The opportunities continue to come, and I stand in amazement as I look forward to what comes next!!
  • So as I write this blog, I anticipate someday to be a published writer, to coach, mentor, and train others, and to make a difference in the lives of others.  I can’t wait to look back someday at this very blog and realize where I was when I wrote this vs. where I am when I read it later.  The doors continue to open.  And I’m running through them as fast as I can!
  • I end with a few strange, interesting, or funny facts about me:
    • I like cheese, you have no idea
    • Oreos were made for me – what would the world be like without them?
    • I am an extreme Pittsburgh Steelers football fan – I can’t even explain in detail – would take too long.  I have attended 2 AFC Championship games in Pittsburgh.
    • I love comedies and laughing – if you can make me laugh, you have my attention.  They say laughter is the best medicine.  Most of the time, I think I am overdosing.
    • I love to learn something new every day – especially when it helps me to move closer to my goals
    • I can say my A,B,C’s backwards really fast.
    • In college I was featured in USA Today as part of the “Academic All-American” team.  I think my mom bought 100 of them that day.

And my nominations for the One Lovely Blog Award are as follows:

  • Brianna’s Happy Life – one of the first major bloggers to pay attention to my site.  I’m privileged to have connected with Brianna.  Her site is very entertaining, and I there is a page where she talks about her GOALS that is so fun to read!
  • Dream Life Moments – this is such a neat site.  Jennifer and I met through our nomination from Brianna for this very award.  But I challenge each of you to check out her site – two of my favorite areas are her 33 Random Things on her dreamlife list, and the contents of her “About Me” page.  Very entertaining.
  • Laughing At Everyday Life – if you want to have some fun, check out this site.  So many funny quotes, comments, articles.  When I want to laugh, this is where I go!

Thanks to all who follow me, and keep reading!  There is more to come!

Work-Life Balance Is A Fantasy

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Find your ‘work-life balance’”.  We’ve heard it all our lives.  And everyone has suggestions on how to accomplish this balance.  The focus has always been on finding a way to be successful at work while still finding the time to live your life outside of work.

It’s time to be enlightened, folks.  There is no such thing as a work-life balance.  It doesn’t exist.  And as you read further, I hope you understand why I make such a bold statement that may have never been made before.

I heard a character in a movie ask another character “Where do you live?”  The second character replied “Everywhere!”  This comical retort got me thinking this statement was more true than funny.  Many of us, if asked this question, would give a street name, a city, a country, because we would be thinking about where we spend our lives in a house.  But I challenge each of you today to think differently.

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The reason I say work-life balance is a fantasy, is that the two are not mutually exclusive.  I read a very interesting story once called “The Dash”.  And it spoke of how that, at the end of our lives, there is a date of birth and a date of death with a “ – “ (dash) in the middle.  What you do with your ‘dash’ is what makes the difference.  That simple dash is your life and everything you do during that dash defines ‘life’.

If you are at work, you are still living your life.  If you are at home, you are living your life.  If you are out with friends or family, you are living your life.  Everywhere you turn, you are living your life.  Therefore, instead of focusing on a ‘work-life balance’, focus on a “Life Balance” where you focus on every aspect of your life no matter where you are.  Give 110% in each and every one of those aspects.  Your family and friends should remember you as someone who is dedicated, thoughtful, kind, and loving.  Those who work with you should remember you as someone who is dedicated, goal-oriented, a team player, resilient, focused, hard-working, tenacious, and unwilling to give up.

If you focus on being the best everywhere you go, paying attention to the urgent and important needs, showing kindness to others, prioritizing each and every aspect of your life, you will find that you no longer have to worry about ‘balancing work and life’, because your life will be all that you have, and work, friends, family, and all others will be things that together MAKE your LIFE.

One of my favorite writers, Zig Ziglar stated once that “No one ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I had worked more’”.  The focus of your life should never be whether you should work more or less.  It should be whether you are giving quality and priority to the things in your LIFE that matter the most, in the right order.

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When this life is over, all that will be left is the memory of you.

The question you have to ask yourself today is how do you want to be remembered.  And what things can you do today to ensure you meet those goals in your LIFE?