Where will you leave your legacy?

  • Published
  • By Maj. James Turner
  • 39th Force Support Squadron commander
About a year ago, a course instructor at the Air Command and Staff College asked my classmates and I a question: "Where will you leave your legacy?"

The question was asked in the context of a class regarding leadership in command. Although all of us were not slated to command immediately following school, each person in the seminar had the opportunity to provide a response to the instructor's question. Comments from my classmates varied quite a bit, but my response was definitely the one that came out of left field. My reply was simple, "I don't intend to leave a legacy on my command. If I'm going to leave any legacy, it will be with my family."

I'm telling you this story to remind you of the importance of your role as a family member. Whether you are a husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter or significant other, your role in your immediate or extended family is paramount. All of us hold important jobs in our Air Force but we must never forget the important role we play in our family. 

Today more than ever, the hardest thing we must do on a daily basis is balance family and work. Of course we all have meetings to attend, reports to write and suspenses to meet, but be careful not to let your work consume you and cause you to lose touch with your family. By all means, I'm not encouraging you to ignore your responsibilities at work. I'm simply encouraging you to plan accordingly at work and never forget your responsibilities at home.

How many retirement ceremonies have you attended where the individual retiring stood up and said, "I wish I would have spent more time at work?" For me, the answer is, zero and I'm willing to bet the answer for most people is zero as well. In retirement ceremonies I've attended, most people comment on how they wish they would have spent more time with their family. Take a lesson from these retirees and don't let this happen to you.

My 2-year-old said to me the other morning, "Where ya goin' Dad?" I replied, "Work." His response was, "Awe," Trying to justify to my 2-year-old why it was important to go to work just wasn't the right idea at that time. I simply replied back, "Don't worry buddy, I'll be home later" and he smiled. Throughout your career, you'll communicate with many people and attend countless meetings but when you retire, you'll probably remember very few of those conversations. With that in mind, take that extra minute to listen to that special someone in your life; it's the listening they remember the most. Regarding the short exchange of words I had with my 2-year-old the other day, it's these kinds of conversations I cherish most.

Your contributions to our Air Force are important and your service to our country is admirable, but the most important thing you can do is leave a lasting impression on your family. So the next time you think about making your mark in life, think about your family and how you will leave your "true" legacy with them.