Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Living The Legacy: When I’m Gone, What Else Is Going With Me?

On Saturday, March 31, 2012, Brothers Lascel Webley and Bryan Burns made a presentation on leaving a legacy. The event took place at the Durham Alumni house in Durham, NC and is a part of the series Living the Legacy. While the presentation speaks to members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. specifically, there are lessons applicable to those outside the organization as well.

In the following section, I've done my best to capture the essence of the event. During the first half, Brother Lascel Webley spoke about achievement. What is it? What are examples of it? How does it affect your legacy? 

Then, in the second half, Brother Bryan Burns talks from the heart about how to apply achievement in our every day lives. In short, it is what we do personally, professionally, and fraternally that determines what we leave behind.

The session was an intimate one and involved plenty of dialog between presenters and their audience. Enjoy!

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Everyone, to some degree, wants something of ourselves to be left behind. How do we do this? In this session, we’re going to talk about a framework and how to apply it to our lives.

We’re always talking about Achievement at all levels of the fraternity. When we have new members, we never really define what Achievement looks like. How can we achieve when it’s not defined or talked about.

What is our definition of achievement? (audience responses)

  • Setting goals for yourself and achieving it (getting a degree for example)
  • Making things better for yourself (climbing the stairs)

Lascel looked up the word in the dictionary (Merriam-Websters) and then later in the Bible (2 Chronicles 9).

In the Bible, we learn about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. She wanted to know about him and his wisdom.

Webley came to understand that the word “Achievement” is defined in the eyes of the beholder. When we think about the word achievement, we think about our leaders and their moving us toward a goal. In the Bible, we need to go out and do good deeds.

 In our own lives, we can achieve. We don’t have to look to our leaders to achieve.

Why are we looking at the elementary understanding of achievement? Because it’s the basis of our fraternity.

What are the achievements of Elder Watson Diggs?

  • He was a principal (from audience)
  • He was a teacher (from audience)
  • He wrote a letter to the President of the United States (Webley)

What about James E. Shepard?

  • He created a college (from audience)
  • He was a pioneer with a diverse group of supporters (Lascel)

What about Wilt Chamberlain?

  • He scored a lot of points (100 points in a single game) (from audience)

What about Arthur Ashe?

  • He was a great athlete (tennis) (from audience)

What about Johnny Cochran?

  • He was a very successful lawyer (from audience)
  • He defended O.J. Simpson, Snoop Dogg, and Puffy Combs (Lascel)

What comes to your mind when the name Eddie Long is mentioned?

  • His relationships with young men (from audience)
  • Man of God (from audience)

Some of the achievements by these men have been tarnished by other incidents. There are positive achievements and negative achievements. It depends on who is looking at the achievement. This is the basis of our “legacy.”

How are we able to know about these men, especially when many of them were dead or achieved before we even knew who they were.

Over time, people forget the negative achievements and only want to focus on the positive achievements.

What is a legacy?

  • What you left behind to remember you by (from audience)

From Merriam-Webster:

The dictionary breaks legacy down into two forms: Tangible and intangible

From the Bible: God supports this as well…tangible (giving land, jewelery, etc.)…intangible (birthright).

When we’re gone, what do we leave behind.

First, there are positive and negative legacies. It’s not just positive. The answer is determined by which one outweighs the other. More positive than negative or vice versa.

A legacy can be short-lived or for eternity. In the case of this fraternity, the legacy has lived for more than 100 years.

A legacy can be local, national, or international. In this fraternity, we are international.

A legacy should inspire.

If you were to leave the world today, what would be your legacy? Would your positive legacy outweigh your negative achievements?

Will you leave a story of achievement, success, love, wisdom, guidance, humor, etc?

How do you go about leaving a positive legacy?


Personally

What do you want your family (spouse, kids, etc) to remember about you? The names you give your kids says a lot about who you are as a parent. It starts with how you raise your kids. Brother Burns talks about his own life and how he was raised without a father. As brothers, we need to associate our kids with positive organizations.

A number of brothers who are fathers bring their kids to community service projects and other programs as a way to show them the positive things in life.

What are some of the things you think are most important as parents?

  • Morals (from audience)
  • Sharing life lessons in verbal and in written formats (from audience)
  • Positive examples as role models (from audience)
Brother Burns believes that he can provide a positive legacy as a mentor. We can mentor kids as well as the younger generation.

Another area that we can control is our interactions with the community. We can volunteer. It’s a small investment into the lives of others. To Bryan, this is another form of achievement.

In our fraternity, there are many people who say they want to help the community; however, the number of people who act on that promise are few. We need to stop talking, just do.

Achievement is personal. Everyone has something that is important to them and they should stay true to it.

Growing up, many of us were not raised in a home where there was financial IQ. Bryan talks about the mentality of Mega Million Winners. What would YOU spend your winnings on? Cars, houses, clothes, etc. some would say. Did you know that you can leave items to an organization (houses, land, money, and other property)? Consider leaving a legacy of tangibles.

Brother Leaks rises to talk about whole life insurance as a way to give $25,000 to the chapter. Leaks talked about Ben Ruffin and his intention to leave a policy to the fraternity. He died before he could do that. Young people could will a policy for something as little as $30/mo. Monies could be willed to chapter Foundations.

From the audience, Brother James says that we shouldn’t fear leaving a legacy. He hopes that what he does or what he leaves to his children, it helps someone else.

Professionally

Brother Burns learned early on in his fraternal career, that everything he does is reflected on Kappa. He’s not JUST Bryan Burns, he’s Bryan Burns the KAPPA.

At his job, he is achieving through business ownership. Does this mean that all Kappas own businesses or this successful? By growing these kinds of Kappas the perception or reflection of the organization changes to be more positive or negative.

In a reference to last week’s session, it is a must that we build a network.

Fraternally

Bryan Burns talks about the countless stories of Kappa Leaguers who later joined the organization on the undergraduate or alumni level. Many of them remember the legacy left behind to them by other members.

One of the greatest things that you can do, as a brother, is being an advisor to the undergraduate members. As men, as Kappa men, we have a greater purpose. If you have the opportunity to advise or mentor, you should.

What can we do to encourage others to be more giving?

  • Setting an expectation (from the audience)
  • Encourage younger people to share that success (from the audience)
  • Teach our wisdom, stories, and parables (from the audience)
  • Being role model (from the audience)

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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