The Legacy of John Chapman

Legacy has come up as a topic in several conversations of late. It’s a subject that I think about quite a bit, especially as I’m aging and looking at how our values evolve and grow over the years. Legacy to me used to be about what I left behind and how I would be remembered in terms of accomplishment and contribution. I see it differently now. Now I see it as being about what I live more than what I leave – what I begin more than what I finish.

The impact of our lives is most valuable when we see it from the perspective of how we influence the lives of others. As a life coach, I recognize that my role is being a catalyst. It isn’t my role to create personal change. That is up to the client. I can plant the seeds but they must be the ones to take on the job of gardener and bring them to life.

This thought brought me to the idea of a tree. I still believe that trees are the best example possible of what legacy really means. When a tree is planted, we know that it’s fullness will only be realized over time, in fact over many years. My brother and I planted trees in our first backyard with my Dad. We lived there 15 years and they were still not at their peak. We visited another 10 years later, 25 years after they were planted and we were in awe of them. But our connection to them came from the fact that we had been there when they were just a seedling. It was such a privilege to go back and see them after all that time and appreciate what had come from our effort.

That’s the thing about legacies, it’s not common for us to be able to witness their full value and impact because what we plant with our lives continues to grow long after we’ve moved on. We want to KNOW what we’re leaving. But in truth, what we leave is so much more than we can ever imagine.

One legendary figure that’s specific to trees that bears mention is John Chapman. You know him best as Johnny Appleseed.

The most popular stories about him have him spreading apple seeds randomly everywhere he traveled. That’s not really what happened. The true story is that he traveled, extensively. And he did plant apple trees. But with absolute intention. He planted nurseries. He even built fences around them to protect them.

Once they were established, he would leave them in the care of someone local and they would care for them and sell shares of their produce for their mutual benefit.

Each year or two, John would return to check the health of his nurseries and quite often expand them. He was without question a dedicated conservationist but he was also a sound businessman and even then, knew the value of passive income and wealth building from the earth. When he died, he left over 1200 acres of orchards to his sister.

He was considered somewhat eccentric, hence the folklore, but his real legacy was in those trees and what they represented.

It’s not enough to just plant the seed. We must take care for the growing of it and then entrust it to others so that we can move on to plant again. As the Greek proverb teaches:

We must be willing to plant trees

whose shade we will never sit in.

It’s such a powerful metaphor for how to live a meaningful life. Those powerful words from Albert Einstein come to mind again: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Isn’t that the ultimate legacy? The creation of value that continues to grow beyond us?

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.



Do you spend or invest? A declaration for 2017

How does a word guide us? Can it clarify intention? Create influence and focus? Yes, yes and yes!

The beginning of the miracle happens when we choose a symbolic word around the over-arching and current intention we have for our life.

Its fundamental purpose is to influence our choices and sharpen our focus.

Do we need one? In short, no we don’t. It’s just a tool. But think about it. The right tool for anything we do makes it possible to execute with greater ease and efficiency. And once you’ve found such a tool, you keep coming back to it.

The selection of an annual guidance word is a practice I started a number of years ago. Their influence in shaping my choices and outcomes is easily identified. I can also see where the intention of the word became part of my personal belief system and part of my life’s fabric.

During one of my most challenging years my chosen word was gratitude. It was a difficult time. There was a significant amount of fear and pain, for myself and those dear to me. The antidote? Gratitude. I’m sure you’ve heard it said and I can attest that you cannot be fearful and grateful at the same time. If we were to compare the two contrasting emotions to a rock, paper, scissors contest – gratitude is the one that would always win. Even though it was some time ago that it was in my word rotation, gratitude remains a core value in my life. The habits I installed that year are now well embedded life practices and continue to serve me every day.

Admittedly, there have also been years where I chose a word as an exercise but never fully adopted it into my daily routines. It wasn’t long before I did not even think about that word. A practice recently discovered that helps counter that risk is expanding the idea of a guidance word to a guidance statement or proclamation. The word is the language symbol of the overall thought. This seems to me to have the potential of being even more effective. We don’t just choose and declare the word – we choose and declare its meaning to us.

As I am reflecting back on 2016 and looking forward to 2017, I recognize that an expanded bridge is definitely in order. This past year I focused on creating space; on letting go. It was a year centered on challenging the choices in my life in every area. I gave myself permission to question everything and let go of anything that no longer served my best life and work. It was daunting in some moments but in the end, it generated the result I needed.

That result? Space. The ability to see past life’s clutter and discover what truly matters to me and why. Finding room to breathe and allow myself to expand my perspective and possibilities.

What then is next? How to invest that space in a more meaningful way.


Think about this with me for a moment. This is the pivot point for me. Do you invest or do you spend? I’m not just talking about money. I’m talking about all of your resources. Your energy, time, emotion and yes, your money. Everything. The idea that how we do anything is how we do everything comes to mind. If we are predominantly spenders in one area, chances are pretty high that’s our level of discipline in other areas as well.

My conclusion? I’ve definitely been on the spender side of the spectrum. Even though I work as a strategist, all too often I’m making choices in my life that are based on expediency or convenience. This shows up in my health, my calendar and yes, those pesky finances!

Once I cleared enough space to see the reality, the next question was this: Will I continue to just spend or will I balance that with investment?

We all know that spending is a natural course of getting through life. But when that’s all we do, we limit ourselves and what we can achieve. Nothing can compound until we invest. And without compounding, we will soon lack momentum.

It’s time to invest.

Here then is my declaration for 2017:

  • I am invested in my spiritual well being and communion with my Maker.
  • I am invested in my physical well being and daily practices that produce optimal health.
  • I am invested in my financial well being and take full responsibility for my future.
  • I am invested in my relationships and nurture the people in my life.
  • I am invested in my work and achieve continued mastery in my craft.
  • I am invested in my community and make a difference every day.
  • I am invested in my environment and honor what is entrusted to me.
  • I am invested.

Even as I was writing this the thought deepened. I recognized that the idea of investment brings complete clarity to what I have been talking about for some time. To have the tomorrow we want, we must act on those desires today. That is investment in its highest form. We invest in the tomorrow we want today. We make that investment with every thought and action.

Live (invest) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (invest) well.


Where did I put that?

Woman Searching For Something In DrawersYou know the moment I’m talking about. You had it and you put it somewhere. Now if you could just remember where, you could get it back. You really need to find it. But it seems the harder you try, the more elusive it gets. Perhaps it’s your car keys, your glasses, a book, a bill, a favorite shirt. You had it and now you cannot find it. It can be frustrating, even a little maddening.

But perhaps it’s something more. Perhaps it’s your money, your time, your health, your friends, other things of value that seem to be slipping from your grasp and you’re struggling to better manage and keep up with them. You know it was there, but where did it go? Where did you lose it?

It happens to all of us. One of the reasons it is showing up more and more could be that we think it’s a matter of just finding it again, a once and done sort of thing. But that is not the case. Keeping track of what matters is not a one-time thing or even a sometimes thing, it’s an all-the-time thing.

Since this continues to pop up in my own life and I hear it increasingly from clients and friends, I am more convinced than ever that at the core of this is the fact that we are still not fully engaged every day with our values and priorities. We say that we are and yet, we are not living them. It can be a struggle or it can be a strategy. The choice is ours.

This is the true meaning of “Live today like you want tomorrow to be”. It all comes back to us and how we are living our values and the priority we are giving them in our day to day lives. It requires us to be honest with ourselves about what we want, where we are and what we are willing to do to close that gap.

Here are a few places we can check in with ourselves:

  1. Bank accounts – Do they reflect your values and priorities for financial responsibility and freedom? Are you being strategic with financial resources? When you want something are you looking at the true cost or just the payment? Do you spend like a consumer or an owner?
  2. Personal calendars – Ah, time. The great equalizer! Do you keep a calendar? That’s the first question. If not, perhaps that’s where you should start. Create a written record of what is happening and then begin to see how it changes because now it is about where you are choosing to be vs. where you are showing up.
  3. The pantry – This is currently one of significant importance for me because health is not only a key value, it’s a new priority. So my refrigerator and pantry had to become my friend, my partner and not my enemy! They could not pulse with temptation; they had to provide healthy options. Once again though, it’s a continuous commitment. The cupboards being bare can be almost as detrimental as having poor choices.
  4. Personal libraries – Did you know that one of the key resources identified by highly successful people as pivotal to their success is their personal library? Today this isn’t just about physical books; it’s about all kinds of media and resources. What do you have at your disposal and what are you leveraging for personal development? Many people tell me that they are life-long learners and yet when pressed for information about what they are learning now, it is undefined and certainly not strategic. How easy it is to change that! Whether it is a book, a class or even a subscription to a magazine, blog or podcast, having this in our daily routines is powerful and life changing.
  5. Our friends and families – A core practice within business, particularly for leaders is something we call a 360 degree or peer review. Getting feedback from those closest to us is invaluable in helping us gain a new perspective about our role and contribution. We often fear these because we think it’s about critique. But that is not always the case. In fact, from my experience, it can be just the opposite. Here is a good way to start: Choose the five people most important to you from your inner circle. A combination of friends and family is helpful but it really depends on you. Ask them to rate your relationship (not you – your relationship) on a scale of 1 to 10 for a level of satisfaction. If it’s anything other than a 10 –ask them what you would both need to do to make it a 10. It’s a conversation that has completely changed many relationships (and lives!). .

If this all sounds over-whelming (or like too much work!) then pick one and focus there for the next 30 days. Layering change is often the best way for creating lasting change. But get started. Find out where you put those all important things and reclaim them! Know where they (you!) are everyday.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

Staying the course – Finishing the race!

Finish the race

Successful people seem to have an uncanny ability to adapt and adjust in the right places at the right time in order to make it to the finish line every time. Join their ranks and be confident in your personal perseverance power by adopting these five principals as your own.

#1:   Keep your eye on the finish line

What is waiting for you at the end? What is that promise?  When we stay focused on the end goal, it gives it a magnetic quality that will help pull us through tough times and circumstances.

#2:   Fuel your fire

Mother Teresa taught: To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.”

How are you keeping your commitment vital and alive? What are you feeding to your internal energy furnace?

#3:   Focus on consistent steps – not leaps & bounds

What we do daily has a much higher impact on the results than what we do weekly, monthly or occasionally. The stream must be constantly moving to wear down the rock.  When you are consistently working on something, you will attract even more opportunity.

#4:   Make everything serve the goal

This is not just fortune cookie wisdom. Determined focus is what delivers destiny.  That means you must bind together all of your resources and deploy them as a single force of power.

#5:   Don’t be afraid of set-backs

What scares you? For most of us, it is failure.  To move past the fear, we have to redefine failure. Failure is rarely a valid judgment.  Your plan is going to change.  That is not failure.  That is intelligence at work. Define attempt as research.  It is welcome progress.  Embrace that thinking.  And you will re-channel the fear and stay on track.

Are Your Roots Showing?

Some time ago I participated in a coaching program led by the incomparable Pamela Slim. It was a guided excavation of our life experiences and skills in order to more effectively leverage them as building blocks for our future.

The course was within a group environment but all of the work was individualized. We were each given the same assignments to complete and then bring back to the forums and group. By sharing our work we were also learning to articulate with clarity what we had confirmed as our personal beliefs about ourselves and our vision for our lives.

Before examining our body of work, the initial focus was on our roots: our core values and beliefs. But there was an additional caveat. We also explored and shared their genesis and evolution. We can take a myriad of assessments that will help us identify and define core strengths. While those can tell us who we are now, what is often more compelling is an understanding of why or how we came to be that person. There is a critical connection between belief and skill.

Examining the source of a belief can be powerful work. It can help us explain something that drives us that we’ve never been able to see before. It can help us let go of beliefs that no longer serve us. One of the key lessons in this is that only those beliefs that are the product of our own conclusions create true change. Everything else is just a temporary persona we’ve taken on and does not reflect our true selves.

Kyle Wilson, long time business partner and friend of thought leader Jim Rohn, recently shared this quote from him with our Lessons from Network community: “Be a student not a follower. Gather all the information, then make sure what you believe and decide is the product of your own conclusions!” I clearly remember the first time I heard Jim Rohn teach this. I was listening to one of his recordings while driving to see a friend. It spoke to me with such resonance that I stopped the car to listen again; and then again. It remains what I consider to be one of the most important entries in my personal journal and a core element of my own life philosophy.

When we take the time to know ourselves and take responsibility for our personal beliefs it enables us to embrace the incredible person that we are. It is then, and only then that we can tap into our unlimited capacity to grow and expand. It transforms our entire landscape of opportunity.

Find your roots. And then let them show! Allow yourself the gift of some magnificent obsessions around what matters to you and your role in the world.

When you do, you will also find the passion you need to live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

Are You Living in “Grand” Time?

Female Multl Generation Family Walking Along Autumn PathThe advantages of reaching what I now call my “wisdom years” are many. But without question for me, one of the most delightful of those is being a grandmother.

There is something uniquely gratifying about holding the hand of your child’s child.

There is something profoundly meaningful about creating a value in their lives that no one but you can create.

I’m not sure I ever really thought about or completely embraced the idea of legacy until the moment I first looked into my oldest granddaughter’s face as a newborn. What a startling moment that was! A life circle unfolding right in front of my eyes.

I’m asked often about my company name, Mackenzie Circle. Its true genesis moment was meeting my first granddaughter. I reflected back to my own mother, grandmother and her mother before her, Molly Mackenzie. It was then natural to shift that vision forward to my own daughter; her daughters following her. A circle that is ever growing, widening, deepening, ebbing and flowing. And so Mackenzie Circle was born: a company that celebrates life every day in a way that builds a stronger tomorrow for all.

Over the past 15 years as a grandmother there have been many lessons along the way. Perhaps the most compelling thing I can share is that being a grandmother is the most enriching and the most revealing relationship I believe I have experienced. We see the world differently because of the lens they bring us. And we see ourselves differently because of the lens we are able to bring to them.

I recently met a woman that was about to meet her first grand-child. Her anticipation was palpable as you might expect. There was also some trepidation along with the excitement. She asked me what advice I could offer to her and quite frankly, it gave me pause for a moment. But then I realized how truly simple this is. It comes down to three basic things – our calendar, their causes and a focus on creating memories that will sustain them long after we are no longer physically with them.

Your Calendar

If you want to know what you truly value, check your calendar. It was easier when we were the parent. Having our children on our calendar was a matter of routine. We had physical responsibilities that mandated time. As a grandparent, we need to reflect time with our children and grandchildren as a choice. Isn’t it wonderful when you know someone is choosing time with you? And that doesn’t always have to be in person or even voice to voice. Video cards are great. And so is that old stand-by: personal mail. Those hand-written cards and letters are memory box items they will treasure. The key is that they know they are valued because they are on your calendar by choice.

Their Causes

Another area where as grandparents we play a crucial role is by hearing our grandchildren and championing their causes and ideas. Those first fresh personal insights one day grow into their own belief system. These are often borne in the conversations and early reflections we are privileged to share. As we learn to hear them clearly and accept them without judgment (or fear of their judgment of us!), we can grow together by caring together. We are able to help them see beyond themselves to a greater purpose and good by sharing our own causes and introducing them to those ideas. My granddaughter and I take particular delight in sharing books and even music with each other that we’ve found knowing they will appeal to the other. We feel heard and seen when someone reflects back to us what we are projecting to the world in a positive way.

Shared Creations

And last but of course never least is the creation of memories. The best way to create memories for and with each other is to create with each other. Whether that is art, music or even learning something together. Having a reference point for the relationship is what allows them to carry our light with them long after the torch is passed. It is so important to remember that we do not leave a legacy; we live it every day with every encounter.

So here is to those next generations providing us the opportunity (and privilege) to truly live “grand”!

It gives new meaning to living today like you want tomorrow to be.

Within this light, we live today like we want their tomorrow to be.

And that will always be to live well.