“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
-Maya Angelou 

 

The kind of legacy we leave will only reflect the kind of life we lived. Seems obvious, but there is a bit of irony in our tendency to romanticize the leaving, much more than the living. Death has a universal way of turning most of us down a path of reflection and nostalgia. Perhaps that’s why it has become a cultural norm to give people their flowers after they die, and not before.

 

The recent passing of Aretha Franklin sent me down this path of reflection. Years ago, it was the passing of Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela.

 

As I read through social media commentary and watched snippets of Ms. Franklin’s funeral coverage this past weekend, I wondered what an eight-hour tribute to her, while she was alive, would have looked like. Not in spite of, but in addition to a well-deserved eight-hour celebration of life. Ms. Franklin’s passing left me wondering if I am truly living my best life, and do I motivate others to challenge complacency and overcome obstacles? Through much reflection I have come to the conclusion that, as things stand, the answer is not quite…yet.

 

I believe that those who leave a legacy are not motivated by the possibility of posthumous recognition, but by a deep commitment to being present. They are either just focused on survival in the now, or thriving in their god-given purpose. Mandela had prison then presidency. Ms. Angelou had a season of muteness as a result of personal tragedy, before her voice made her an icon. Ms. Franklin overcame a broken home and being a teenage mother before becoming crowned the “Queen of Soul.”

 

Perhaps because the legacy is not what drove them, the life they lived with conviction and courage naturally only led to the legacy we now celebrate. The challenge for you and I, while we still have breath, is to follow their example to live a life that leaves a legacy, while not solely living for the legacy.

 

 

 

andrena sawyer

andrena sawyer

Andrena Sawyer is the Founder of the Minority Christian Women Entrepreneurs Network (MCWEN), and the President of P.E.R.K. Consulting—a consulting firm for nonprofits and small businesses.

Originally from Freetown, Sierra Leone, she and her family moved to the United States when she was nine years old due to a decade-long civil war. She now credits her family's move during the war for her interest in human triumph and perseverance.

In addition to her work with entrepreneurs, she is the author of The Other Side of Assertiveness, Ponder It In Her Heart, and The Long Way Home.

Of all of her interests, she is most passionate about seeing people restored by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
andrena sawyer
andrena sawyer"> andrena sawyer
Andrena Sawyer is the Founder of the Minority Christian Women Entrepreneurs Network (MCWEN), and the President of P.E.R.K. Consulting—a consulting firm for nonprofits and small businesses. Originally from Freetown, Sierra Leone, she and her family moved to the United States when she was nine years old due to a decade-long civil war. She now credits her family's move during the war for her interest in human triumph and perseverance. In addition to her work with entrepreneurs, she is the author of The Other Side of Assertiveness, Ponder It In Her Heart, and The Long Way Home. Of all of her interests, she is most passionate about seeing people restored by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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