You are an original.
There are billions of people in the world and not one is the same. We are born with different attributes and flairs for different things. Our environment, experiences and the company we keep shape us further.
All of this heavily influences the direction of our lives and we end up on different paths with different challenges, stories and desires.
It’s so easy for life to continue in a rhythm, one foot in front of the other, along that path. Some days are average, no different to the next. Another day of college or work or in business. Other days stand out.
Today is just a regular day for many, but for others, it’s their birthday, their wedding day, the day they welcome home a new baby or the day they say goodbye to a loved one. It’ll be marked in their calendar for every year from here on.
When these days happen. These days that make you stop. These days that make you realise that life is precious and you can’t just let it run away. These days call you to listen and pay attention to what’s really important.
Creating a true legacy.
Events don’t always have to happen to you to be a reminder to cherish life.
Recently, as fan of the popular comedy series – Friends – I was shocked and so sad to hear of death of Matthew Perry – who played Chandler Bing – especially as he was just 54.
Of course, in the days that followed, newspapers, media channels and social networks were filled with an outpouring of grief from fans and fellow celebrities as well as a celebration of his comic brilliance.
From all of this is it would seem that Friends defined him. The show was certainly a hit, winning six Emmy Awards, including outstanding comedy series. In terms of ratings, it reached the number one spot by its 8th season and was watched by millions of viewers around the world.
The series inevitably rocketed the careers of the entire cast and brought them intense media attention. Although being famous seems an attractive concept – particularly on those days when life may seem mundane – it’s a much harder life than many realise.
Public life is under constant scrutiny. Photos and stories about public figures are valuable and so both intrusion and speculation become every day. Your life has a price tag. It can become hard to trust friends because a salacious story can sell for a lot of money whether it’s true, half-true or not true at all.
In addition, there’s a constant pressure to ‘perform’. Public figures can be vilified for having an off day or going to the shops in an old tracksuit and unwashed hair. And, it’s hard to be ‘always on’ and always wearing that mask that the world expects.
It’s not surprising then that addiction becomes a problem for public figures and, sadly, for Perry, this was a lifelong struggle, no doubt heightened by his fame.
I can’t even begin to comprehend how tough addiction must be. Perry claimed he spent $9 million on his addiction. He said he had 14 stomach surgeries, 15 stays in rehab, 30 years of therapy and around 6,000 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Despite it all, he decided to use his challenges to help others. He lobbied government for changes and opened Perry House, a sober living facility in his former mansion in Malibu. For this, he received a Champion of Recovery award from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The opening of Perry’s memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing includes a dedication to the people he wanted to help: “For all of the sufferers out there. You know who you are.”
In the book, he speaks openly about his struggle with addiction, something that takes courage in a world that’s obsessed with Photoshopping out our flaws.
Recently, mourners gathered at the Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles to say goodbye to Perry, less than a mile from the Warner Bros studio where Friends was filmed.
I heard the Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush song ‘Don’t Give Up’ was played during the funeral. Apparently, it was a song he often referenced when signing copies of his book. In an interview, he said, “I always put ‘Don’t give up’ because you shouldn’t give up”.
Certainly, Perry’s mission is far from over. Close friends are reported to have launched a new foundation in his honour to continue his lifelong efforts to help people experiencing drug addiction.
Perry brought great joy – and so much laugher – in his role as Chandler in Friends and that’s a wonderful achievement. But from what I’ve read and the interviews I’ve seen, it’s his work to support people out of addiction that he wants to be his true legacy.
Think about this...
We all get given a different amount of time in life. None of us knows exactly how long that is. But we do have the time that we have right now, in the present.
So, think about this…
What do you really want to be remembered for?
However old you are, whatever your circumstances right now, it’s a good question to ask yourself to make sure you’re living the life you want to live and making the impact you want to make.
Both the challenges and the triumphs we’ve experienced – or are yet to come our way – are an opportunity to make a difference and carve something new in our lives. It’s not always a case of needing to make a radical change unless there’s something badly and urgently wrong.
Small steps, taken often will get you up a mountain. And, it’s better to take those small steps than wait and delay, especially when it comes to something so important to you.
People need to know about you.
When you’re working on that thing you want to be remembered for, don’t forget that a big part is making sure people hear about it. Who needs to know about it and why? How are you going to get them interested and engaged?
In everything you do, remember the words of legendary author, thinker and poet, Maya Angelou…
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Your life and the impact you make matters and it’s the way you make people feel that will ultimately be remembered.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep at it!
- Asking yourself what you want to be remembered for is a useful way to check if you are living the life you want to live and making the impact you want to make.
- Both the challenges and the triumphs we’ve experienced in life are opportunities to make a difference and create something better for ourselves and the world. Don’t give up on what’s important to you. Regular steps forward are key to making it happen.
- To make the thing you want to be remembered for a reality, it’s important that people know about it and are on board. Make sure you know who needs to be part of your journey and why. Think about how you want to make them feel. That’s, ultimately, what they’ll really remember.