I’ll go to my grave before I forget or abandon the last lesson my grandfather taught me.
Without ever sitting me down, without ever penning a letter or handing me a book, Pada taught me how to lead. He taught me how to lead without having all the answers.
Now that I think about it, he taught me this without realizing his impact carries across generations. He was just living life by a few quiet principles, putting family first and never vaulting his needs above anyone else’s. By no means a perfect man, Pada was, I know, still proud to see his son become an industrious business owner and provide a nurturing home for my sisters and me.
You think that’s small? That’s profound.
I can chart a course – I can determine to grow my impact – I can set out to find my voice despite not having all the answers, because of his example.
One day I will be called to lead a family of my own. And just as importantly today, I am called to influence the community around me.
My grandfather put real meaning into Zig Ziglar’s words…
“Don’t count the things you do; do the things that count” – Zig Ziglar.
Probably half of all the time I spent with my grandfather was on the golf course. I learned, among other things, how to properly throw a golf club in rage (there's a correct way, believe me). I learned golf carts are incredibly resilient, and brakes are optional. I learned a five iron from the weeds can be just as helpful as a wedge, and if that sounds like code language, then you should have heard what my grandfather said when it didn't work.
These lessons might not sound very useful to you, and in fact, I think my grandfather was more focused on his golf game than on instilling virtues into me, but he actions were impactful. He was doing the things that really counted. Teaching me golf or puzzles or telling me jokes were ways for him to connect, even when he didn't have all the answers.
I watched as he cared for his wife, whom we called Honey, as Alzheimer's robbed her of her brilliant smile in her final days. I watched years later, as his own health failed him, and I was proud to see he was still the joy in his nurses' day.
He is passed now, but his impact has not faded.
Months ago, at a charity golf tournament, my dad and I met one of the ladies who had cared for my grandfather in his later years.
She joked about life as a new grandparent, and all the ways that made her feel old and prone to jokes she'd rather not hear. Then she said something we never imagined we would hear. Because of the example she witnessed in my grandfather's most vulnerable times, she believed the greatest honor she could hold as a grandparent was to be like him.
In her family, she and her husband chose to be known to their grandchildren as Honey and Pada.
What a legacy.
I won’t forget Pada’s lesson, just like I won’t forget Zig Ziglar’s words or the words of encouragement I have received in my life.
Impactful messages have a way of revisiting us because they’re rooted in truth.
Truth is haunting.
It demands a decision.
It demands action.
In the same way, my grandfather’s legacy demands I make a decision. How will I grow
what’s been given to me?
How will I take the insight I gained in Ziglar Youth Certification and apply it to the needs
I see around me? How will I share my own impactful message of truth?
I don’t have all the answers, but Zig Ziglar said hope is the power that gives a person the confidence to step out and try.
I can do more today, as a Ziglar Youth Certified speaker, than I imagined before. I can stand on a platform that was laid down before me and call others to recognize the generational impact they could have.
You think I’ve been sparked? I’m on fire.
Christian is a ZYC First Class graduate working as a sports journalist in Tulsa, Oklahoma.