What Inspires Your Legacy?

Today I have hope for the future.  I am excited for the first time in a LONG time…I have chills just thinking about it.  When I close my eyes, and get ready to speak, the words that roll to the tip of my tongue bring on a surge of emotions that I haven’t felt since I was a kid.  I feel inspired, and it doesn’t have anything to do with a single politician converging on Washington DC.

The line at the top of this page implies that I am going to talk about the First Lady, but I would rather not talk about any single woman who boasts the title.  Instead, I would like to tell you about the First Lady of my imagination, the one who inspired the words that are sitting, buzzing, on the tip of my tongue.   I want to tell you how she pushed me to unlock something that I thought was long lost, that leaves me on the edge of my seat, on the brink of tears from excitement.


Although many take on a political role, especially in campaigning, the First Lady of my imagination is a person who has no political agenda of her own.  She didn’t run for office, isn’t worried about reelection, and isn’t obligated to a political party.

I imagine the First Lady, thrust into a room of staffers, pens to paper, ready to throw their life’s blood into whatever platform is launched by the words that leave her lips in that moment.  Suddenly, this person, who wasn’t on any political ticket, becomes a powerful figure, with the nation’s resources at her disposal and media poised to focus its attention on her efforts.  In that moment…the possibilities are limitless.  She can be the champion of any cause, setting the wheels in motion to affect real change in the world with a single whisper.

A former First Lady said that if you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, branch out…you don’t even try, because you are never willing to accept the risk.  I think it’s safe to say that an ordinary person is much more likely to fail than the First Lady in my mind.  Not only is she unbound by the limits of an ordinary person, she is encouraged by the wild ideas of my imagination, where no risk is too high.

I will be the first person to tell you that I will never be the First Lady, or the President for that matter.  But like many of us, I have causes that I’m fiercely passionate about.  Sometimes I daydream about ways to become a champion of those causes “someday.”  Sometimes I even tell people about vague future plans to give back, using words like “nonprofit” or “philanthropy.”  Usually, like most ordinary people, I jump into lively conversations when they come up, give to charities here and there, and leave the effort to change the world to the extra-ordinary people who are unencumbered by ordinary lives.


Another former First Lady said those words.  She was far from ordinary.  But her words should serve as a slap in the face to all of us who think the opportunity to change the world is reserved for those who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.  The First Lady in my imagination was thrust into a room, given a platform, and was liberated by the expectation that she would change the world.

You must do the things you think you cannot do.

What if you set the expectation for yourself that from this moment forward, you would set yourself on a path to change the world?  What if you decided to accept failure as a possibility, no matter how high the risk?  The First Lady in my imagination is incapable of letting ordinary limitations get in her way.

Now, imagine yourself in her place, seated in a room, surrounded by eager faces, pens at the ready… 

What do you say?

Written by Angelina Stephens