Everyone has a chance to be a hero to someone. You don’t even have to be dead to be a hero. With Memorial Day approaching, it got me to thinking about those in my life that I have looked up to as heroes. Unfortunately, holidays like Memorial Day and funerals seem to be the only times that we really stop and think about the impact that someone had on our lives. These are the times that we remember, or better yet, celebrate their life and their lasting legacy on those that they touched.
December 2, 2001. That is when my mentor and high school basketball coach, Bill Dunn, died of colon cancer at the much too young age of 48. He was in Michigan and I was in Texas coaching. I was too busy to visit and figured he’d come through and I’d have a chance to see him again. That didn’t happen. I never got a chance to tell him what he meant to me. Actually, strike that last statement. I had plenty of chances. It just never seemed important or urgent enough. There would be time for that some other day. There’s always another day, right? Well, that day never came.
Let’s celebrate those who impact us, not just by respecting their lessons and legacy after they are gone, but by doing it while they are alive. Your wife means the world to you? Then treat her like it each day. You admire your boss? Then act like it when he or she asks you to do something you don’t want to do. You say that your employees are vitally important to your business; that’s its about the people in your company? Make them feel important and wanted each day. Your parents made you into the leader you are today? Tell them.
I was 27 years old when Coach Dunn died, which happened to correspond to my first college head coaching job. At that time, I counted up how many family and friends had passed away during my lifetime. The number was an astounding 31. Obviously, the longer a person lives the more likely, their number will be high and continue to grow. In this world, we experience many highs and lows. We see a great deal of life and death. However, one thing remains constant…we only have one life to live and only one go around to impact the world and be a hero to someone. What will your life be about? If I don’t treat my players, my friends, my family like my heroes treated me, then I am disrespecting and shortchanging their example.
The tears shed, the sacrifices made, and the inspiration derived from the life and death of heroes leave a shallow footprint if we fail to build off of this and honor them with our everyday actions.