Before we leave 2023 too far behind, allow me to share a special moment from the holidays.
It is early in the morning a few days after Christmas; the tree is lit, and the house is quiet. I can’t sleep. This Christmas season feels different. It has been two years since I lost both of my parents within only a few short weeks of each other. And we unexpectedly lost my mother-in-law on December 14th.
The year before my parents passed, I bought them and my mother-in-law subscriptions to StoryWorth. If you are not familiar with it, StoryWorth is an online service that allows you to preserve memories of loved ones in their own words. This was to be their Christmas gift in 2021. My mom received both books just prior to Christmas, one written by her and the other by my father. I read my mom’s book to Dad on Christmas Eve in his hospital bed only four days before he passed. And, on this quiet, reflective morning, I read all three books from cover to cover.
The memories made me smile and reminded me of how short our time is. In reading the stories, I came across my mom’s Senior Class speech from 1954. I’d like to share several excerpts from her speech titled, “To Act from Honest Motives Purely” with you:
We are 134 in number, and we embrace a multitude of differences. We and the thousands of other young people graduating from high schools this spring are the heart of America, and the heart is not misled by differences, for the heart knows caring. And in our common caring we are the dreamers of a new tomorrow, strivers toward a better world for ourselves and for our children. We are individualists, yes; yet we know that dreams are achieved only by working with others who share our vision.
…Through our deeds you may know us. Action, not mere activity, is the key word that leads us as we carry out the objectives of our Action Program, a program designed and developed by thinkers and planners and doers engaged in the unselfish enterprise of making a better Citizenry. There is (an) immense difference between activity and action.
A life of mere activity may be shallow, and it may be irrelevant to the times of which it is a part. There are plenty of routine activities in which we must engage, but we must never delude ourselves with the notion that a mere round of assorted and inescapable chores will satisfy our tasks. Action is activity with a clearly designed purpose that looks to some large goal, ultimate in our dreams but often more immediately at hand than we in our small vision are willing to admit. I wish that some way might be found to stir the greatness that dwells in the least of us. Leadership is truly a priceless ingredient…
There is much more to her speech than what I have shared. And as I reflect, I am in awe of the wisdom of my mother at an early age, and the life that she lived. Mom cited her greatest accomplishments in life as her children and raising them to become honorable citizens who have the respect of others.
As we all get lost in the “activity,” do not lose sight of the actions that you take towards a greater vision. For we all have greatness, and our leadership is a priceless ingredient. “Our word means something; people believe what we say and accept what we do.”
As you embark on 2024, what are your goals, your dreams, your vision? Who will you be engaging in this journey? We all have a story that is being written.
“We are individualists, yes; yet we know that dreams are achieved only by working with others who share our vision.” – my mother, Shirley (Peters) Otto
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) is the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC and author of the bestseller, "The Value Journey: How to Drive Profits, Build Wealth, and Exit Your Business on Your Own Terms."
Our firm is focused on providing business owners and their businesses with strategic planning, exit planning, financial expertise, and organizational improvement. We use a holistic approach within all of our services by aligning leadership with business strategy and outcomes.
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