What will you leave behind?

Monday, June 14th, 2004
A hundred years from now, when people stumble across the archaic things that we once called blogs, what will matter the most? Will future generations really care which model PDA you wore on your belt, what kind of car you drove, or how many hours you put in each day at the office?

After you are gone, would someone who knew you well be able to say that during your lifetime you accomplished the things that were truly most important to you? How would they know?

Chances are that your children's children and perhaps even their children will know of you. Verbal family tradition, a personal journal, and even your blog, (if you had one), as an active journal of history, will help paint a more vivid picture of your life than perhaps you currently have of your grandparents. But, what will these say about you?  What kind of legacy will you leave behind? What will your children be like?

A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had, nor what my clothes were like. But  the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child. - Dr. Forest E. Witcraft

If you have spent any time perusing the archives of this site or my family web site, you know that beyond my work, or my current hobbies, such as robotics, or CNC, my family -- my wife and my children -- mean the world to me. Other than the spiritual element of life, it is my family that I live for. The primary reason that Kathy and I have chosen to home educate our children is more than just to be able to provide our children with a sound education: we want to provide them with a heritage, rich in the knowledge, skills, values, and faith that we consider most important for a successful life.

Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.  -- Proverbs 22:6

David Allen challenges us to focus on the "Successful Outcome." Stephen Covey tells us to "Begin with the end in mind." Whatever you call your process of long-term contemplation, I believe that you cannot truly be "on-purpose" in your daily life without a clearly defined objective and a strategy to get there.  Without a road map (or compass), pointing me to my destination, how could I possibly hope to know how to evaluate the opportunities or tempting situations along the way? I could accept that CTO offer, I could, move to ...,  I could pursue [fill in the blanks].

Many years ago, Kathy and I decided to sit down and map out the mission, vision, and purpose for our marriage and our family. Knowing that life can seem like a series of course corrections, we wanted to make sure that at least we were both heading for the same destination and that we were clear on how we expected to reach it. Using our 30th wedding anniversary as an initial milestone, we prayerfully wrote out our family mission statement; a picture of what we desired our family to be like 21 years into the future.

The legacy that Kathy and I hope to leave behind is our family mission -- not on paper, as I will share it, but a living testimony in the lives of our children. The true measure of our success as a family, will be in whether they choose to pass on this legacy in the lives of their children and if their children in turn, choose to do the same.

With a clear picture of our successful outcome in mind, we worked backward to the present and translated our family vision into measurable outcomes in specific areas of our life, and we committed to work towards each of these. From this family mission statement, I have developed my personal and business vision. When faced with difficult decisions, I have found great clarity in reviewing these.  I wish I had had the maturity to have done something like this when I was much younger.

Having a clear sense of direction has given Kathy and me a clarity and unity in decision-making that we would not otherwise have had. It has influenced our decisions about everything -- where we live, our career choices, (even including which clients to serve),  and how we play.  We review it aloud regularly, and we now include our children in the process.

How will we do living out our family mission statement? Certainly better than we would do without one. Check back on this site in 15 or 20 years.

Eric

P.S. I would like to encourage you to develop your own family mission statement and to reflect upon it regularly. It will change your life. If you would like to see ours, you are welcome to view it here or on our family web site.

Honoring Reagan’s life

Tuesday, June 8th, 2004
I've just returned from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, where I took my wife and children to pay our respects to a man who honored God and this great nation that we call the United States of America.
Reagan was a "first-class president" who gave the country a sense of optimism at a time when it needed it most. Most of all, Reagan was a "firm believer in the strength of the United States" who played an instrumental role in ending the Cold War  - Gerald Ford

20040608-HonoringPresidentReagan.jpgThe thing that I admired most about President Reagan, was the fact that he was not afraid to speak up for what he believed was right. Whether you agreed with his politics or not, President Reagan was a great example of someone that made the most out of the time that God granted him.  President Reagan lived his life to make a difference in the world and he positively affected the lives of many, here in the United States and around the world. While President Reagan has gone on to a much better place and is no longer suffering, he leaves behind a family, a nation, and a world that will miss him. May we all learn from his example that we only get one opportunity at life and that we need to make the most of it. Our family extends its prayers of comfort to the Reagan Family.

The experience of traveling to see the flag-draped casket of the President, under the vigilant watch of honor guards from each branch of the Armed Services, was certainly a memorable one. After a long drive down, we arrived very early in the morning at the grounds of Moorpark College, located just a few miles away from the Presidential Library. There, we joined a line of thousands of people who had also come to pay their respects.

It was very moving to see tens of thousands of people -- some of whom had driven all night and had travelled long distances -- all gathered to show their sympathy. Even with the large numbers of people, the process was actually quite solemn and orderly.  [It did surprise me to see that at least half the crowd was dressed quite casually, even sloppily --  as if they were coming from the gym or from doing yard work. (If you know Southern California, then you know that the laid back attitude often extends to attire as well.)  Fortunately, this was the only thing that I felt took away from the decorum of this public assembly.  Well, maybe not. There was the matter of cell phones. I realize that we were all in line together for close to 5 hours, but in all of the many simultaneous conversations that I was forced to listen to, none of them were of any significance. Fortunately, security told everyone to put away their phones once they reached the check-point, and I am thankful that cameras and camera-phones were also prohibited. OK, enough of my rants.]

Security was amazingly tight. In addition to the obvious security check-points, we were under the watchful eye of the Secret Service, L.A. County Sheriff, and the California Highway Patrol, and a multitude of video cameras. We spoke with one bomb-squad technician, who was standing by his vehicle, gear at his feet, and ready to be called to action. I complimented the security and he indicated that all of the departments were working together quite well.  I certainly felt very safe. These men and women did a fine job of ensuring that we were safe and that the lines kept moving. I was told that over a fifteen-hundred people an hour were able to pay their respects. Given the news estimates that over 80,000 people have viewed the casket so far, the number was probably closer to two thousand to twenty-five hundred people per hour. Simply amazing.

Once we had reached the front of the line and passed through the security check-points, we were taken by bus to the top of the mountain. There was an armed escort on board and CHP motorcycle officers accompanied many of the buses as well. As we disembarked at the Reagan Library we joined yet another line. Once we reached the front of that line, we were allowed to proceed around the hall where the President's body lay in repose. The casket was draped in the American flag, and honor guards stood watch at each corner and to the sides. These men are a living testimony of honor and duty to one's government and its Commander-In-Chief. I have not seen anything like this since I visited the tomb of the unknown soldier in Washington D.C., many years ago. It was very emotional.

We were ushered around the casket rather quickly, but I will not forget the awesome feeling of being in the room to pay my respects. I will always remember this event, and even though my children may not presently understand what an honorable man Reagan was, I want them to remember that we are blessed to live in this land and that we are thankful for our leaders and the men and women who serve us faithfully.

As we exited the viewing area, we were greeted by the Presidential Library staff, who handed us the above card, and personally thanked each of us for coming to pay our respects.

Another wait in line, and bus ride down the hill, and we were back at our starting point, where the Library staff invited us to sign the guest book. We took a moment to sign the book and to write our words of condolence and appreciation to the Reagan family.

Just as we were driving away, the California Highway Patrol evacuated the freeway to escort a multi-car motorcade -- complete with sirens, lights, and lots of motorcycles. Turns out it was just John Kerry. I guess he did not have to wait his turn in line for 4 hours, like the rest of us.

It has been a long day - 12 hours round-trip, and we were only in the room for a little more than 90 seconds in all. I realize that there are many people around the world who would have liked to have the opportunity to personally pay their respects to the President. I hope that this blog, in some small way, shares the experience.

I am grateful for the opportunity that my family and I had to honor the life of President Ronald Reagan, and I am thankful for the freedom that my children and children around the world, now enjoy, due in part to his efforts.

Eric Mack

It was Hell!

Sunday, June 6th, 2004
This weekend, with the news coverage of D-Day and the passing of President Reagan, I have been thinking about American heroes.

One of my heroes is my grandfather, Donald, R. "Skip" Stelter  -- a man who enlisted not once, but twice to serve his country. As a young soldier in WWII, he stormed the beaches of Normandy, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He also served in the Air Force in the U.S. and in Vietnam.

Image:It was Hell!
As a child growing up, I could not comprehend the significance of these battles, the freedom that they brought to a Europe at war, of their cost in terms of casualties. I also could not appreciate what would have happened if men like my grandfather had not stepped up to serve their country and the world.

My grandfather never spoke of the war, preferring to keep silent in the subject. Enamored by the glorified portrayals of war and American victory in the movies, I was curious to know what it was like to have participated in these famous battles. I wanted to ask someone who had first-hand experience.        

Image:It was Hell!
The battle for freedom continues. Today, men and women around the world are fighting for freedom and many have made the ultimate sacrifice.
As we take time as a family to pray for our troops, we give thanks for the men and women who have served our country in the past and those who serve today.

The next time you see a veteran, a person currently serving in our armed forces, or someone serving in law enforcement, please stop and thank them for their contribution to the freedom that you enjoy. They are our Heroes.