I have had a number of surprising conversations this past week with a number of people, all of which have made me reflect on the impact we have in our life through the actions we take. These conversations have been about the late Duke of Edinburgh, who died last year, and whose Memorial Service took place at Westminster Abbey last Tuesday; I felt hugely privileged to be invited to the service, in my capacity as Chair of ESU Scotland, along with the Deputy Chair, and it was indeed a very special occasion. The music filled the cavernous and beautiful space, the words of the speakers were potent and truthful, and the atmosphere was respectful and yet also joyous. The service was perfectly executed, and was, in fact, in a very satisfying way, all that I had expected.
What I hadn’t expected, however, was what I would discover afterwards. Such an experience merits retelling (well, I wanted to share my excitement and joy, at any rate …), and as I retold the event to a number of friends and colleagues, I found, to my surprise, that almost every single one had a memory of the Duke of Edinburgh, and could talk about the impact he had had on their lives. (I met him once too, in fact, and chuckled at the time at his acerbic wit!) These memories of others ranged from having met him in person – many amusing anecdotes! – to having participated in projects which he supported, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, which has been a powerful force for good over several decades (and continues to be so). What was remarkable was that almost everyone I spoke to felt as though the Duke of Edinburgh had had a personal impact on their lives, and that – crucially – they were grateful to him.
The Duke of Edinburgh had an influential (and financially privileged) position in life, to be sure; he could, however, have used this position in a number of different ways, and he chose to have a positive impact. Not all of us will have the same range of opportunities to have a positive impact on the lives of others, but in actual fact, particularly if we think in percentage terms, we could all have the same impact, if we choose to do so. When we do something good, then the ripple effects can spread far and wide. If every action we take is a positive one, then just think about the wider impact this will have, as people feel good, and even tell others. One person CAN make a difference, and that one person is, in fact, each one of us.
So … let’s consider our legacy, and make every effort in the days, weeks, months and years that we have ahead of us, to do what is right and good (and I am not going to try to define that – you know what it is …). Continue to have the most positive impact you can on the lives of others … and a heartfelt thank you for what you have done so far!