I have studied leadership all my life and will continue until I die. What concerns me is the broad-based misunderstanding of what leadership is. I worry about our society until I meet another person who gets it and is trying to make a difference in his or her realm of living, and then I have hope! I aspire to leverage all of the experience I have had for the benefit of others. I would hate to have gone through all of that stuff and made all of those mistakes and not be able to help others do better than I did. Unfortunately, the real learning often comes in the pain and loss. I would like to help others not have to go through as much of that as I did. Someone once asked me what I would like my legacy to be, and my very quick answer was that I don’t want a legacy. A legacy would be about me. I don’t want anything that shallow. I want to be able to discern where God is on the move so that I can be part of it. I don’t want this ego- centric accomplishment agenda. I think that one of the most important tests of any endeavor on Earth is its impact on human potential. To the extent that I can help someone become more infatuated with his or her potential, I feel like I am in real agency with God here on Earth to do the most that can be done. This was an evolution. In the early ‘90s in an estate planning meeting, I was told that if I died right then, this amount would go to the
government. I would rather see what that money is going to do, so I decided that every year I would have the accountants tell me the most I can give away that would be tax advantaged, and I would give that away. I’m having fun seeing it do something. So it started from a selfish motive: I want to see something from all of this. As I got into that I experienced things that got started that wouldn’t have otherwise begun and I realized I was a part of that blessing. I began to involve senior management of our company in how we can pay back those who really deserve it. Our company has the smartest customers in the whole world because we have the struggling customers who are trying to make ends meet. We are inspired to discover everything that we can do to help them get ahead in life. It’s a matter of paying back, and true giving involves confusion about who is really giving and who is really receiving. We have been profoundly blessed by giving to people who couldn’t pay us back. We see the impact that comes from that motive. But there are a lot of people who need our help. Of the hundreds of thousands of persons I have met in my lifetime, I am convinced that I have met none who is as blessed as I. But how can I be a good steward of that? It’s all a gift and with any success there is a lot of luck, a lot of other persons who have contributed to that success. Being a steward of success involves sharing it where it can be most cathartic and helping others have a better life.