Making Your Life Count – Leaving a Lasting Footprint
Life. The subject of many a heated conversation, the core to so many of our cherished writer’s and poet’s work, and the inspiration to so many of our greatest art pieces.
There are those who are renown for their observations of this marvellous journey – capturing ‘Life’ through the lens and documenting through artistic photography or using the elegance of the written word. Life is something ‘we’ strive to understand, something we often fear and indeed too often waste.
In what feels like a blink of an eye, years pass and our experience grows, the race then quickens for there to be enough time to apply your experience to your years of life left!
Life, something we are so fortunate to be given and something we dread to give up.
Through my many experiences I have come to an open conclusion; that life is a wondrous journey that can hold only one surety – that change is to be expected – and our one ambition should be to learn the skills of adaptation, adjustment and to be agile and graceful as we weave the illustrious tapestry of our path.
It is within the setting out of our path and the majesty in which we travel, I believe makes the foundations for a ‘Great Leader’.
For me, a leader is a person who inspires those around him or her to adopt positive characteristics that will, in turn inspire others, forming a ripple effect of Positive Continuous Change – coming about because of the actions of One Single Person.
It is by using this analogy that we can safely say that One Person can indeed make a significant difference. The challenge is deciding to be that One Person, to use our power of choice to say ‘today I am going to make positive change happen’.
One of the most liberating times of my journey until now was in the days and weeks and initial months after the bombings. The euphoria of just being alive held me in high suspension, soaring above all the mundane elements that so often trap ‘us’ into wasting our life… time.
On the morning of July 7, 2005, I was just another commuter in London on my way to work, a journey that I made every day, falling into the almost sleep walking state of habitual steps to and on and off the train, the pattern of commuters almost looking choreographed.
Except, that Thursday morning I was uncharacteristically late – and a catalogue of ‘difference’ and ‘change’ happened to ensure that I boarded the train in the same carriage at the same time as the suicide bomber.
Within seconds of the train leaving the platform, my life and those around me changed forever.
Suddenly I was confronted by the very real prospect of my own death – and my desire and curiosity to stay is what, I believe, ultimately kept me alive.
When rescue arrived I was unrecognisable, having lost 75% of my blood, suffering 3 cardiac arrests and collapsed lungs – my body badly burnt and damaged, the most severe sight being the detachment of both my legs – still only clinging to my body by a tiny sinew. My chances of survival must have seemed very bleak.
I was without an identity, labelled firstly as a Priority One and then once admitted to hospital my label changed to a rather chilling ‘one unknown, estimated female’.
During my four months in hospital I came to ponder the wrist band that now sat in my bedside draw, reading over and over the words ‘one unknown, estimated female’. The gift of this identity became glaringly obvious and showed me the brilliance of humanity and what was worth making a difference for – all in those few words.
What I found profound was that so many people were prepared to risk their own lives to come and save ‘one unknown – estimated female’ – to them it simply didn’t matter if I was male or female, the colour of my skin or my ethnicity had no baring, it didn’t matter if I was rich or poor, in fact the only thing that did matter was that I was a human being – a precious human life that needed to be saved.
It was in the actions of those who saved my life that I understood what it meant to make a difference, to take the lead, to take the initiative – to make the choice to say ‘today I am going to be the person who makes positive change happen’. And my life is the result.
Making Your Life Count is, for me, a choice that shouldn’t have to be attached to a tragedy. Our lives are the most precious thing we have – what we choose to do with it is vital in shaping both the immediate and future world around us.
We can be sure of the past, we know where we have been, what has gone before and most importantly, what solutions were found to overcome the greatest of challenges – in essence, we are informed by hindsight.
We can also be sure of right now – this very moment. In the present we have the ability to draw from our past and make choices that will inform our future – what we do today can make both your and our tomorrow.
In facing death I have come to gain a better understanding of the simple complexity of life, the layers that beg for understanding and yet once uncovered they present themselves to be beautiful, simple propositions.
Our lifetime is precious – every second, every minute, every hour – matter. I believe our time is about making our mark – leaving the world a little better because of our existence – creating our legacy and our Lasting Footprint.
Whether decisively leading a group, or not, may you always start your day with this;
‘today I am going to be the person who will make positive change’.
By Gill Hicks
Inspirational speaker and author. www.gillhicksspeaking.com
Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.
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