On Thursday when I stepped off the plane in BWI Airport to make my connection from Portland to Charlotte I received a text that nobody ever wants to get. It was from my late mentor’s son.

Years ago, my coaching mentor Randy and his wife Marylyn retired and moved down to Charlotte North Carolina where their son Tom lives. (Randy passed away in June 2011, which was when I began writing my book Seeds of Success that’s based on my time with him)
Marylyn Mills or “Mama” as she was known to many, passed away a day after the late reverend Billy Graham (who also called Charlotte home). I believe this to be no small coincidence. The timing of everything surrounding this trip is too coincidental to chalk it up to being coincidental.
What I didn’t tell you earlier was that I wasn’t traveling to Charlotte to visit Tom and Marylyn. I was going to Charlotte for a meeting with a film company interested in partnering with me to produce Seeds of Success: The Movie. (More on that another time)
I believe a higher power wanted me to be in Charlotte and not just for a meeting about the movie. Tom’s siblings are scattered about the east coast and Thursday he was navigating the loss of his mother all alone. Coincidentally (or not) just before I left for Charlotte, the film company called to tell me they needed to reschedule the meeting from Thursday to Sunday afternoon.
After two plus years of pitching the script to producers and agents in Hollywood (the movie capital of the world) what are the odds that Charlotte North Carolina of all places would be where I’d be led for this meeting? And what are the odds that I would be traveling down there on this particular date?
The late Reverend Billy Graham once said:

“A coach will impact more lives in one year than an average person will in a lifetime.”

You may be wondering… 

What Does This All Have To Do With Me?

The short version is that it has everything to do with you on two fronts.

1. I don’t believe Billy Graham’s famous quote is limited to coaches (or their spouses). If you’re in a leadership role of any kind, it also applies to you. Whether you are leading a classroom, team, corporation, non-profit or a family for that matter, you too will impact more lives in one year than an average person will in a lifetime. You were not put on this earth to play small, you were put precisely where you are to impact lives for the better.
If you’re a leader of any kind, there’s a spouse, significant other, family member friend or staff member of some sort behind the scenes quietly making sacrifices and working hard to help ensure your success. You owe it to them to thank them now, while you still have the opportunity. How do you show appreciation for the person who is the glue of your team or family?
2. Our time on earth is not unlimited. Life is short and tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. Consider this, by the time you’re done reading this you’re closer to death than you were when you opened this email.
Marylyn or “Mama” as everyone called her lived in the present and was always at peace. I wish I were more like her in that regard.
At the reception in the church basement, I was able to listen to all of her friends, family and loved ones discuss what an amazing person she was. Mama Mills truly lived. She wasn’t consumed by worry about the future, she enjoyed today and made a difference wherever she was while she was there. I got to hear this from many members of her church family. As well as stories about her generosity, compassion, and faith. This is her legacy.
Much like in 2011 when I sat in the same church basement after Randy’s funeral this all led me to reflect on what I want my loved ones to say about me at my funeral. Today I ask you to reflect on that same question:

How do you want to be remembered as a leader?

Do you want to be known as someone who was always worried about the future so much, they missed out on the present? Or do you want your legacy to be that you impacted more lives in a year than an average person does in a lifetime?

If you’d like to watch my tribute speech to “Mama Mills”, Tom was kind enough to record it during the service:

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