I have been mindful these days about the connection between the living and the dead. Yes, it is Halloween and this is one of my favorite holidays. I am one of those people who enjoy watching horror films in the dark, clutching my blanket in anticipation of the heart pounding scare. I fill all available spaces with cackling witches, vampire candles and things that glow in the dark.
Ancient traditions around this holiday point to a practice of honoring our ancestors. This time of the year marks a time for séances or other techniques to connect living souls to those departed souls who need to send a message or comfort the aggrieved. This practice frightens a lot of folks and often becomes the subject of scary soundtracks, books and films.
But what if we took the scary out and considered the value of connecting in some way with those who have paved the way for our current success in life and work? I recently attended a leadership retreat where we opened the group event with an Ancestor’s Circle. Each participant lifted up and honored someone who had made a significant impact on their life and work. The effect was phenomenal. A group of strangers who had barely introduced themselves become clearly and unexpectedly emotional as they described these amazing people who had believed in them, made them feel special or unique, or provided a foundational framework from which to live, work, and create community with others.
I stand on the shoulders of many amazing people who assisted me on the path I walk today.
Anna Lehmker, my grandmother, dropped everything when I spent time with her. She made me feel loved and valued as we walked through her amazing garden or played pencil games.
Roy Lehmker, my father, loved me quietly but completely as he nurtured me and gave me strength and resilience. He rarely complained, demonstrating a work ethic that is deeply engrained in me. He taught me how to enjoy life and love family.
Betty Spencer mentored me as I began working in the field of child advocacy and human services. A social worker who never really retired, Betty always asked, “Why aren’t we doing this?” or “How can we help this family?”
Thomas Leonard, known to most as the Father of Coaching, created a plethora of material that we all still draw from today. His legacy lives on in many volumes of written work, two major coaching universities and many masterful coaches who were mentored by Thomas and who now mentor and instruct me. If not for Thomas, I would not have been able to build this business and engage in work that I enjoy more than anything I have ever done.
So now, I ask you to take a few moments to consider who carved a path for you in your life and work. Whose shoulders do you stand on today? And how did they help you become the person, the leader or the volunteer you have become? Max Delbruck said, “Any living cell carries with it the experience of a billion years of experimentation.”
What a rich legacy we carry forward to generations to come!