Way back in 1962, when I was only 8 years old, my grandfather, Guy R. McClintick, started planting a tree farm on his property in Minnesota. He was in his 70’s at the time and we all wondered what he was doing digging holes for hundreds of trees. All he said was, “These are for you.” Now, almost fifty years later, we have an incredible stand of white pines. One of my cousins and her husband are thinning out the trees and are going to use the lumber to build a cabin some day. What a great gift to leave for your grandchildren.
My grandfather was always thinking ahead like that. He never worried about the past and he always looked to the future. He was the most practical person I ever knew. To him the most important thing of all was to help others and leave the world a better place than he found it. It wasn’t just his motivation, it was the whole point of living. Anything less than that would be considered a failure. He never got rich by being this way but what he lacked in possessions, he made up for in friends and family. Everybody liked and respected him as the one person they could always count on to keep his promises.
I wish there were more people like my grandfather. It wasn’t just his accomplishments either, it was more about his attitude toward life. He was truly happy in his work and was eager to do more. He never took time off except to go fishing or hunting and even then the point was to get something for dinner. From dawn to dusk he made a difference for everybody around him. His attitude was infectious and we all did more just so we could stand next to him and compare ourselves to the standard he set.
The world would be a much better place if we just had more people like that to show us the way. We need leaders who aren’t afraid to make and keep promises, who genuinely give more than they receive and are always thinking ahead. We need to raise the standard of expectation and the sense of accomplishment that goes with it. I can’t tell you how good I felt when my grandfather praised me for working hard.
Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” In order to do that we have to demonstrate integrity, honesty, discipline and responsibility on a daily basis. We have to actually expect more from ourselves and look for ways to help. It’s not enough to just talk about character, you have to walk the walk. The opportunities available to us are unlimited. There are just so many people who need help. The sense of fulfillment that comes from making a difference will change your life forever.
My grandfather still serves as my role model. I think about all the firewood he cut by hand, all the fish he caught, all the cabins he built and all the people who held him in such high esteem. He left the world much better than he found it and that’s the standard I strive for each day. How about you?
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