Do you remember where you were when John F. Kennedy died? I was in a social studies class as a senior. I would bet that the majority of readers know exactly where they were and what they were doing even though it happened in 1964; how about last week when Michael Jackson passed, a tragic event for sure. Michael was a great talent and nobody can take that away from him regardless of the fact that he did some strange things in his life.

Death and tragedy like the events of 9/11 have a way of putting permanent marks on our memories if not our souls. We never forget. I’ll always remember the day I found out my dad passed away even though I was only nine years old and hadn’t seen him since I was five, and what I was doing when my mother passed. Death and tragedy just seem to mark our memories with permanent ink. Their legacy often lives on long after their passing.

Everyone, regardless of our status in life, leave some sort of legacy behind. Michael Jackson’s legacy has yet to be completely defined, but certainly part of it is going to be about his talent and how he touched millions, and part will probably encapsulate some of his weirdness.

I prefer to remember him for his great talents. So, what do you want your legacy to say about you? I’ve posed that question to countless CEOs and Presidents -  “What exactly do you want your legacy to be?”

I have been impressed with how many have really put some thought into that question. However, I have been equally disappointed in how many CEOs, presidents and owners have really never given it much thought. Speaking from my personal experience and my own deep seeded feelings regarding what I would like to be known for, recognized for and thought of as I go down that retirement pathway and even that final walk in my life, I began keeping a journal.

I believe our legacy is not only defined by what we accomplish in life but more importantly it is defined by how we live our life and by how much we give back in the way we treat our fellow human beings. Maybe the fact that some famous people have recently left us can inspire you to start thinking seriously about what your legacy is going to be. It sure has made me stop and revisit my goals, motivations and objectives in life.

I believe this journal I have been keeping will not only chronicle my own personal story; my successes, my defeats, my challenges, my GOALS and DREAMS, my own ideas and thoughts, but I believe this journal will help me maintain focus and priority on my personal legacy. It will become something my family can review now and into the future. I am hoping it can become one of the more priceless collections for the family as the years roll on. 

It doesn’t matter if you are 30 years old or if you’re older than 60. Creating your own journal can do wonders for your effectiveness as a leader. It will help you put things in perspective. It will allow you to create focus, purpose and clarity of vision.

No matter how old you are; learning of Michael’s death, Farrah’s death and even the death of famous pitch man Billy Mays, paints a clear picture of how little control we have over life and death. People die every day and the older you get the more you realize how short life is.

Don’t squander the opportunity to work on your personal legacy. Start doing something now that is proactive. You don’t have to keep a journal as I suggest; but do something before it’s too late. Life is short.

Create a bucket list. A list of things you absolutely want to accomplish before you leave this world. It is now a perfect time to begin thinking about and documenting what you want your legacy to be. It will help you put things in perspective; it will add serenity to your family life that will help you maintain balance. It could help you define who you are.

Don’t leave this world with an incomplete list. Don’t leave this world with unfulfilled dreams. Don’t leave this world without a legacy that your family and friends can be proud of. The pursuit of your legacy is the chase of your lifetime. It is never too late to become what you want to become. Start doing it now. Time may be running out.