Recently, I noticed that my personal trainer, Mike Sirani, had a tattoo of the phrase “Beautiful Day” on the inside of his right bicep. Not figuring him for a U2 fan, I asked him about it. He explained that this phrase appeared often throughout his grandfather’s journals, which he wrote in for over 20 years. It was only after he passed away that his family discovered the journals; mementos that have since become both a gift and treasure to them.

During his adult life, Mike’s grandfather, Paul Martino, was in charge of all building and grounds maintenance at Sterling Winthrop Research Institute in Rensselaer, NY.  He was very proud of his job and was a good provider for his family. He also had great appreciation for the little things in life…trees, flowers, change in seasons, gardens.

At age 59, Paul was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After chemo and a bone marrow transplant, he was cancer free for about 1 1/2 years. Sadly, it returned and at the young age of 62, Paul passed away. During his chemo, it was discovered that other Sterling employees succumbed to the same type of cancer, likely a result of their work environment which involved both asbestos removal and exposure to radioactive rooms.

“Beautiful Day” stood out to Mike in reading the journals because, even when his grandfather wrote that he was “so tired,” or that the temperature was below zero, or that it rained all day, or that he didn’t feel well … he would often still write “Beautiful Day.”

Paul’s continued optimism in the face of adversity has left his mark on future generations of his family. It’s affected how they’ve chosen to live their lives and approach situations, even adverse ones. Making this type of impact beyond our lifetime is something many never accomplish, despite having great means and opportunity.

What’s important to remember is that it’s never too early to begin thinking about your own legacy and how you will make an impact beyond your lifetime. For inspiration, read this incredibly eulogy.

From personal experience, I and many others owe a debt of gratitude to Brian Brault. Brian has cemented his own legacy by helping inspire a future generation of entrepreneurs to contemplate and create theirs. For example, in an Entrepreneurial Leadership class this year, Brian started off his session with the question “How do you want to be remembered in 100 years?”

Answering this can be a very difficult exercise. It forces you to honestly examine your life, how you want to be remembered, and the values that you want to see carried on in future generations. In this process, many people realize that they are not living in a way that reflects the legacy they want to leave and that they need to make major changes.

So, what do you want people to say about you in 100 years?


Quote of the Week

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

Shannon L. Alder