What Truett Cathy and My Father Taught Me About Success

What legacy do you want to leave? That is a question I ask of every guest on my upcoming podcast, the World Changer Show. It’s a powerful question that gets to heart of what successful people really want from their lives. How do they want to be remembered? What lasting impressions do they want to leave on others?

Truett Cathy Quote on Giving

Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else. – Truett Cathy (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

I never had the opportunity to ask Truett Cathy or my father those questions, but I learned a lot from their lives. And I think I know how they would have answered.

Like many, I was saddened by the recent passing of Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A.

My family and I spent a few days in my childhood hometown in North Carolina to surprise my mother for her 60th birthday (we nearly gave her a heart attack, but it was worth it). The Chick-fil-A just down the street had their flags at half staff, a reminder that Mr. Cathy was more than a business owner. He was a father to so many who’ve worked there.

Naturally, his passing caused me to reflect on his life and the lessons I’ve learned from it. The trip to North Carolina also caused me to reflect on the lessons I learned from my dad, who passed away more than nine years ago.

The right priorities

Truett Cathy had his priorities in the right order. He wanted to be remembered that way.

“I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”
– Truett Cathy

That is the legacy Cathy left behind. Someone, who despite massive success, had his priorities in the right order. What an awesome legacy to leave behind.

When you keep your priorities in the right order, this is one thing that happens:

Truett Cathy Funeral

A lot of people attend your funeral.

Was it because he was famous? Sure, that played a role.

Was it because people loved his product? Of course.

But what made him the type of person who attracts thousands to his funeral was having his priorities in the right order. He put people first.

“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”
-Truett Cathy

My father was the same way.

He wasn’t famous.

He didn’t invent anything of note.

He wasn’t in the news.

And yet, more than 500 people attended his funeral. It was a remarkable site, especially considering he was an only child from a small family.

I saw people I knew, people I’d never met, people from all over the country. And they all called him “friend.”

“I think about him every day”

When my family and I went to the grocery store in my old hometown, I saw a man across the store who looked familiar.

I’d kind of hoped to not run into anyone I knew. After all, this was the town where I’d been arrested and I wasn’t exactly looking to relive those days. But I’d seen this man a few times and he was an acquaintance of my dad’s (or so I thought), so I went up to him.

The reality was that he was actually a close friend of my dad’s, like so many. We caught up for a moment and then he said something about my father that I will never forget:

“I think about him everyday. I have his picture above my TV and look at it all the time.”

That’s my dad he was talking about! My dad. Wow. And I hardly knew this man. How many others are there like him?

How would you like to be remembered by people that way?

True success

Here’s what I am learning about success:

True success is measured not in achievements but in the number and quality of your relationships.
-Matt McWilliams

Yes, I want to create something meaningful.

Yes, I want to win at business.

But more so, I want to be like Truett Cathy and my dad. I want to be remembered as someone who kept his priorities in the right order. I want to help others. I want others to think about me everyday like my dad’s friend did.

That’s the kind of legacy I want to leave. That’s what true success is.

How do you want to be remembered?

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