5 Powerful Lessons I Found in Loss

We recently lost two giants – one who was a politician and one who was politically astute. One was a war hero who chose not to use privilege to secure his freedom. One was a great entertainer who also walked with Dr. King. Both were talented, groundbreaking and imperfect.

Now, it would be easy to go on listing the differences between these two very strong, very determined individuals, but that is not today’s goal. Their very different but equally moving services inspired me to reflect on my own legacy. Have I made a difference? Have I left my mark? Here are five powerful lessons I found as I moved through that reflective thought process:

  1. Make sure the people you love know it! As important as it is to be a hero at work, you need to be present for your family too… at the end of the day that is what matters most.
  2. Use your platform to help people who have not reached your level of success. Are you mentoring the people around you? Are you coaching them? Are you guiding them? Are you listening to them? Are you sharing with them? Are you leaving a “trail of breadcrumbs” for others to follow on the path to success? If someone paved the way for you, be sure to pay it forward!
  3. You can impact the world, even if you are flawed. Ms. Franklin and Senator McCain were not perfect individuals, but their positive attributes spoke much louder than their flaws. Don’t let your imperfections keep you from pursuing greatness!
  4. Embrace your gifts! All of us have something that makes us unique. Don’t hide your gifts just to fit in with everybody else… perhaps you were designed to stand out and break new ground!
  5. Keep on keeping on! Despite the very serious health challenges they faced, both Ms. Franklin and Senator McCain continued to embrace life to make a change. Remember that you are more than your issues – focus on what you can do and less on what is outside of your control.

Regardless of how long you’ve been in the workforce, it’s not too early or too late to reflect on your legacy.

I challenge you to find a way to make the organization better than it was when you arrived. I challenge you to use your platform (and wisdom) to encourage or inspire someone else.

Wanda Pemberton is also part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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John Burton

Love this article and the advice! Thinking about your second lesson, I’ve come to believe that in our careers we have a chance to teach one another how to live a good life. Even going beyond coaching and mentoring, to sharing how we find balance, meaning and purpose. I’m sure the giants you talk about did that all through their lives!

Kaitlin Moller

I love this post. It’s so important for people to know how much they mean to you and it’s also important to leave your mark. Thanks for posting!