A Leader’s Legacy

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When I recently heard that my friend and mentor had passed away, I was devastated. There was no doubt in my mind that I had suffered a great loss. It was also clear to me that the world had been diminished by George’s death. A great leader had moved from life to legend.

In the coming days as I prepared to attend the viewing and the memorial service, my thoughts were continuously drawn back to my old friend. I thought about the good times we had. George was a great storyteller and could make me laugh so hard tears would stream down my face. Him reminiscing about his adventures was the best entertainment you could find.

He was many things, a native New Yorker, a Marine, a Fire Chief and a retired member of the New York Fire Department. George was truly a hero; he had saved lives by putting himself at extreme risk during his career. He had worked in Brooklyn the majority of his career during some of the most tumultuous times the city had ever seen. But, if only one word could be used to describe him, it was a leader.

As a young impressionable firefighter I learned an incredible amount about the technical aspects of the profession from George. What I value most though, is the lessons that he taught me about leadership. He had a burning desire to become a better leader. I can often remember him telling me, “Good enough never is.” An even greater passion for him was to develop the people around him to become better leaders. George constantly fueled my interests by sharing books, articles, and experiences to help me raise my abilities as a leader. Because of the investment he put in me then is in great part why I founded On Purpose Leadership.

As I sat amongst a huge crowd of George’s friends, family and colleagues at the funeral, I thought to myself, “George left an impact on me that I will never forget.” As more and more people eulogized him though, it became so clear to me that he had done this countless times over by always giving of himself. He had developed a generation of leaders that would be able to impact future generations. George had left a legacy, and I do not know that there can be higher praise for a leader.

It is my hope that I can dedicate myself to a lifetime of adding to those around me the way that he did. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” George wanted to see more people acting as servant leaders in our world. Every day he lived his mission of “Whatever it takes to serve.” Thank you George for taking the time to make me the leader I am today. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Who has most influenced you as a leader?

What will your legacy as a leader be?

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Mike Stanley

Mike has a passion for leadership! He loves to read, write, discuss and teach on a variety of topics that help individuals and organizations raise their level of leadership. His experiences include being a Captain on the fire department, owning a business and being a founding member of the John Maxwell Team.

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