Leaving a Lasting Legacy

What do you want your legacy to be? What mark do you hope to leave in the minds and hearts of those who follow you? What are you doing to create this lasting legacy?

Dawn Perkins Buhler is a mom, wife, volunteer, public employee, and friend. She grew up in Massachusetts and has lived in Austin (happily) for 7 years. She is passionate about ending homelessness and poverty in the US, and is proud to work for the City of Austin as well as sit on the Board of the Zephaniah Community Development Corporation.  She loves to be outdoors with her family, exploring the great state of Texas, as well as spending time with her animals, all rescues. She received her MA in Cultural Anthropology from TX State San Marcos and loves all things related to the field of anthropology. 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Wow, this quote by John Quincy Adams really makes me stop and think each time I read it. It highlights what I believe to be a fundamental piece in leadership – inspiration. Without inspiration, there is no desire or drive to make a difference…and isn’t that what we want as leaders? We want our hard work, passion, skills, and desires to be felt by those around us and to inspire them to take a call to action. This sounds like a mighty and powerful thing, which it is, but it can also be done in smaller ways.


How will I inspire my daughter and what legacy will I leave for her? This is a big question for a new mom and it makes me reflect on the legacy that my parents have left for me. My mom inspired me to be thoughtful and kind. I remember sitting next to a student at lunch in elementary school who no-one else would sit with. I remember feeling proud that I was willing to take this risk and that I was, hopefully, making a difference in this person’s life. I believe this is the legacy my mom left – to make others feel important and good about themselves, especially when they may be feeling their worst.


My dad’s devotion has also inspired me.  At 63, he is the sole caretaker of my 86 year old grandmother and he does it with love, patience, and affection. We always tell him how lucky she is to have him in her life, but he reminds us that he is the lucky one. He inspires me with his dedication and devotion to his aging mother, something that is not always the easiest thing to do.


So, my parents inspired and lead me to be kind, thoughtful and loyal to those we love, even if it may be challenging. These are traits that I hope to pass along to my daughter. And even though she is only 18 months old, I feel that it is never too early to start her on her leadership journey. We can teach her to be kind, to share, and to be aware of others’ feelings.  Hopefully, she will also be inspired by the way that I will take care of my parents when they are aging. Of course, I hope to inspire her to live out her dreams, to be successful, and to make the most of her life, but I also hope that I inspire her to remember how important the little things are. As the anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” If Lydia can become one of those thoughtful, committed citizens, then I will be proud of the legacy that I have left for her. 


Today’s post is the sixth of the SOS Leadership Austin Leading Ladies’ Blog Series. The purpose of this blog series is to share the stories and insights of women who are answering the call to leadership in their lives. Come back each Friday to read more!

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