When I think of legends, my mind automatically goes to quarterbacks, center fielders, and point guards.
Musicians, singers, actors, and directors.
We all think the same way to an extent. Fame equals accomplishment. Extreme accomplishment propels you into legend. The more of a legend you are, the more praise and accolades that you receive. The legend grows.
Babe Ruth is legendary. As is Michael Jordan. They will always be synonymous with their respective trades. Michaelangelo, DaVinci, and Einstein are the ultimate legends, unsurpassed in their works of genius.
But what about you? And me? What can we do to make life “legendary“?
I don’t think I could ever achieve legend status through work or trade. Although I may have thought I was a legend as a bartender in my family’s restaurant so many years ago, that was more or less just youthful exuberance. And a little bit of ego.
When I think legend nowadays, what comes to mind are people that have served or shaped others’ lives in an extraordinary, or even very ordinary, way.
“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion of their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” – Vince Lombardi
Guys like Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan aren’t legends purely because of their numbers, but because of the way they changed the game they played. Their influence on future generations of athletes is something that’s hard to calculate.
That’s what’s legendary about them. The shaping of lives and the future, and the changing of the game.
An athlete like Joe DiMaggio wasn’t held in such high esteem solely because of a 56 game hitting streak or his talent as a gifted defensive player. He was also a legend because he was a boy from a poor family who became an American star, and he had tremendous influence on generations of other Americans. Especially those of Italian descent.
His life was a model of success that even the most ordinary person could draw from. He inspired hope and possibility.
That’s why Einstein, Mother Teresa, Mandela, and John Paul II are the recognizable figures they are. They are and were game changers. With the ability and the drive to influence lives and help others to the best of their ability.
I love the idea of the athlete, and the fascination with their skills. But to compare your potential for greatness to someone with sometimes freakish ability isn’t being fair to yourself. You and I have much more potential to be like the aforementioned game changers.
All were committed to enhancing the lives of those who needed it most and they were unwavering in their commitment. It was 24/7 for them. They did everything in an extraordinary way.
How about the “legends” that live or lived an ordinary life? Those people are the ones we all know. You’ll see some great anecdotes about my grandparents in this blog. They shaped the lives of those around them every single day. When I go through the motions of my life, my actions and my thoughts and words are strongly influenced by my family.
That’s the secret (if there is a secret) to making the ordinary legendary. Always be looking to influence, motivate, educate, and uplift. Whether it be family, friends, or individuals you have yet to know, find out where and when you can make an impact.
In the words of a true legend:
A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
– Jackie Robinson