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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My Farewell Letter to Lowe’s

As many of you know, after 19 yrs 8 months, I have left Lowe’s on 5/02/14 to move into a QA Architect role with United Guaranty.

I wanted to leave my many friends and co-workers with a note that hopefully would last long after I was gone.  Below was my message to everyone as I left today.


I know…..another farewell email for your mailbox.  I apologize to anyone that doesn’t know me.  But I wanted to make sure I reached out to everyone in IT and that didn’t miss someone.  Even if you don’t know me, I might be able to give you something to remember about me today!

Being at Lowe’s for 19 yrs and 8 months has given me the privilege to meet so many wonderful people.  As you would imagine, I have witnessed so much change, watched our company grow from a small office in Wilkesboro (which is no longer even there) to the ‘mall’ location in Wilkes, up to the first offices in Mooresville, and then the IT offices later on.  I’ve watched us grow from a couple hundred stores to over 1700.  I’ve watched us stand up Lowes.com and watched it grow so fast.  I’ve lived through and witnessed several CIO’s and executive leadership changes, reorgs, “visions”, “roadmaps”, and many other changes.

I’ve had the privilege of working with some great mentors and leaders along the way.  Of course, I’ve also had some leaders that have taught me a long list of things leaders SHOULD NOT DO.  I’m equally grateful to both – because both have made me a better leader and employee.

I never expected that I would leave Lowe’s.  In my mind, I felt it would be the place from which I would retire.  But life doesn’t always let us assume the paths that we will take.  As Steve Jobs once said “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

I honestly don’t know where my future will take me, and to be even more honest, I’m not scared of it.  I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities in my career.  I’ve gotten to be part of the lives of so many employees and contractors, and I hope that I have been part of the change and growth of their futures.  I have been in IT for so long, but I know that my passion is to tell the world my story, to write, to teach, to mentor, to coach, and to give the world something that they have never seen before.  Everything I do from this point forward will be in line with that goal.  And I hope that you join me in that journey and that we stay in touch always.

I leave you with some of my favorite quotes and thoughts – along with my assessment and input with them.

  • One of my favorite books is called “How to Become CEO” by Jeffrey Fox.  What an awesome book with awesome advices.  If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest you to.  Some of my favorite quotes from this book are:

o   “Be a Credit Maker, not a Credit Taker”

o   “The Concept Doesn’t have to be perfect, but the EXECUTION of it DOES”

o   “No matter what your job is, you can improve your company by teaching others what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and anything connected with your responsibility”

o   “Look for ways to make your boss look good and your boss’s boss look better.  Don’t’ let them make a mistake”

o   “when someone says ‘I think’ or ‘we believe’ or ‘its my opinion’, that means they don’t know”

  • “Never allow others to think you always have the best answers.  This will only make them dependent on you” – John C. Maxwell from Developing the Leader Within You
  • “Nothing Fails Like Success” – Stephen Covey from The 8th Habit — listen close to this advice.  What works today may not work tomorrow.  What keeps your head above the water today may not be enough to survive tomorrow.  Continue to grow, evolve, and stay relevant.
  • “The Drive-thru is NOT always faster” – Mike Lyles —- don’t think because it SEEMS easier or more efficient that it will be.  Sometimes when I’ve sat in the long lines at a drive through, I’ve found that it would have been faster to get out, go in the restaurant and get my food instead of wait in line.
  • “Be remembered for keeping calm” – Mike Lyles – this is hard advice…and I’ve not always followed it.  But people will respect you if you work toward the goal without taking it personal.
  • “Remember that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth” – and I think it’s by design — try to listen twice as much as you talk!
  • “People will forget what you SAID…People will forget what you DID…but they will never forget how you made them FEEL” – Maya Angelou.  Yes, that’s what SHE said.  Remember that long after the discussions or actions are gone, people will remember how you made them feel.  Be kind and respectful.

What is your five year plan?  Do you have one?  If not, you should.  And you need to ask yourself are you doing something every day that is getting you closer to that goal.  Don’t settle for being average.  You have the potential to be great… find out what it is you do best, and do it better than anyone else!

To everyone that I got to mentor and coach and lead – you must know that YOU taught ME more than I could ever teach YOU.

My only request is that you remember all the great things we did together.  We’ve learned, we’ve grown, and we still have “miles to go before we sleep”.  There are so many ways to follow me, connect with me, and reach me.  I hope and pray that you do!

Mike Lyles

Email:                        mikewlyles@gmail.com

All About Me:           http://about.me/mikelyles

My Website:             http://www.mikewlyles.com

Twitter:                     @mikelyles

LinkedIn:                  http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikewlyles

Facebook:               http://www.facebook.com/mikelyles

Seek First to Remember, Then to Never Be Forgotten

Early in my career, I became obsessed with personal growth and building my career beyond the limits. I was determined to have no regrets in retirement, never to look back across my legacy, and feel that I had failed to accomplish every goal and objective in my life.

I began looking for that perfect book, that perfect mentor, something to help guide me along the way, coach me to be better each day, to stretch beyond my limits and be different from all those around me. What i found was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. What I didn’t realize was the tremendous power of the teaching of this great leader. Little did I realize the impact this would make on my life, my career growth, and how I not only set my goals and objectives, but also how that I coached and mentored those who worked with me to grow in their own careers and personal development.

Today I was saddened to hear that we lost Mr. Covey at the age of 79. He left us with not only this wonderful book which sold over 20 million copies in 30 countries, but many other books on leadership and management principles. While his book gave step by step details on how to live and practice the seven habits, simply reading them can give you insight to the simple steps to personal development. I want to share those 7 habits below for the readers:

Independence or Self-Mastery

  • 1. Be Proactive
  • 2. Begin with the End in Mind
  • 3. Put First Things First

Interdependence

  • 4. Think Win Win
  • 5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  • 6. Synergize

Self Renewal

  • 7. Sharpen the Saw

Throughout my career, I have quoted this great man to peers, managers, subordinates and friends. I have read the Seven Habits more times than I can count. And every time I do, I learn something new each time. Some of the most memorable quotes are listed below:

  • “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out”
  • “Live out your imagination, not your history”
  • “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall”
  • “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”
  • “Most of us spend too much time on what is URGENT and not enough time on what is IMPORTANT”
  • “The way we see the problem is the problem”
  • “Strength lies in DIFFERENCES not in SIMILARITIES”
  • “…to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know”
  • “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective”
  • “Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical, it’s psychological”
  • “Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice”
  • “People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them”

I owe the motivation to become a writer, a motivational leader, a mentor, a coach, and someone that others looked to for support to this great leader, Mr. Covey. His teachings and guidance helped shape so many aspects of my career, personal growth, and leadership principles.

I urge you, readers, to read the works of this great author and leader. While he has left us, one thing he always said in his teachings was that his desire was “..To Live, To Love, and to Leave a Legacy”.

Stephen, you have left a legacy. You will be missed.