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What will you leave behind?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Melissa Youderian
  • 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron
"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies...Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die...It doesn't matter what you long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away." - Ray Bradbury, "Fahrenheit 451"

What legacy will you leave? Whether you realize it or not, you have already started creating your legacy with your actions, views, friendships, beliefs, etc. By being the master of your own destiny, you will also be the master of your legacy. As you are driving to work at such a historic location, where so many legends have tread, take just a few minutes to think about the legacy you are leaving. To facilitate that reflection, I would like to share a couple pitfalls that have come to my attention in the last few years, and made me realize there were aspects to the legacy I was leaving that I did not like.

Being "too busy." I have a great-aunt nicknamed "Busy." In fact, I don't even know her actual name, because she's always been "Busy" to me. The story goes that, as a girl, whenever she was asked to do something she would reply, "I can't, I'm busy." Saying "I'm busy" was such a common occurrence that it's resulted in the permanent moniker of "Busy." While not intentional, I was leaving my own legacy of becoming "Busy II" by always thinking I was too busy. As an example, whenever I got an e-mail stating someone in the unit had a baby and they were looking for volunteers to prepare meals for the family, I would quickly think "I'm too busy" and hit the delete button. What a cop-out! The defining moment which finally woke me to this "too busy" legacy I was creating, occurred after my family went through some tough times. In addition to my group commander and his wife preparing and delivering meals, a general and his wife also took the time to prepare a nice meal for us. Their assistance was a much-needed punch to the "too busy" excuse I'd been using. While my duty positions have been fast-paced, I would never assert I am busier than a group commander or general. The fact is, we are all busy but that should never become a crutch allowing us to put off helping someone out, starting professional military education or the next degree, etc.

Get out of here kid, you're bothering me! Children seem to be the masters of inopportune timing. I'm guessing many of you can relate to the following scenario: you're watching the big game, it's the fourth quarter and the [insert your team mascot here] are driving down the field. The quarterback steps out of the pocket, rolls to the right looking for an open receiver, throws the ball, and..."mom, can you help me with [insert seemingly meaningless task here]." Suddenly, there's a child standing between you and the big game asking for help with something that could easily have been done before the game started, at half-time, or after the game. Instead, your child is urgently wanting help at this very minute. The old me (in an exasperated voice): "Argh! Can't you see I'm watching the game? Unless you're bleeding, it can wait until the game is over." One day, after I heard myself say something along these lines to my son, I realized the legacy I might be leaving in his mind is that a football game is more important than him. I am a firm believer in the fact that there is no such thing as "the ideal time." We can plan our schedules and be master organizers, but there is always going to be someone stopping by and needing something just as we're trying to [insert high priority task or meeting here]. Taking just a minute to find out what the person needs and whether it requires immediate attention can mean the difference between leaving the legacy that you can't be bothered, and a legacy that no matter how busy you were you could always spare a moment for your Airmen.

You are the master of how your own personal history will be remembered. After you reflect on the legacy you are currently leaving, empower yourself to make changes to ensure you are leaving the legacy you want. As John Wayne's epitaph states, "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learnt something from yesterday."