Vail Daily column: Lessons from a life well lived |

Vail Daily column: Lessons from a life well lived

This week, I want to share a couple of lessons that I learned from Harry. Harry served our country in the United States Air Force for 20 years. When he retired from the Air Force, he worked for an insurance company for another 20 years and retired successfully from that company. At age 59, he started and built a very successful local insurance company of his own. And when he finally sold that business, he took a part-time job at Home Depot simply to keep busy and spend time helping other people. He also faithfully served his church as an usher and treasurer and volunteered for many projects and committees. Once a week, Harry volunteered to serve meals to the homeless.

Harry was my grandmother’s brother. He was my great uncle, a better man, a loving husband and a man of faith who served God, our country, his fellow men and the community. He was a special man who worked hard, loved much and laughed often. He loved telling jokes and laughing at all the jokes others shared with him. Every time I called him or saw him, he would have two or three jokes for every new one that I had prepared for him. His approach to balancing life and giving back was an incredible inspiration to me.

Badge of pride

My grandmother was the first one to make the comparison. I would lovingly tease her and she would always say, “You are just like your Uncle Harry.” When I was a young boy, I didn’t quite appreciate what the statement actually meant, but as I came to spend more time with Uncle Harry, it became a comparison and reference that I welcomed. For someone to say to me that I was just like my Uncle Harry was a badge I wore with honor and pride. And all I can hope and strive for is that as I live out the rest of my life, I can have that same work ethic and spirit of love, laughter, giving back and servanthood that he had.

Unfortunately, Uncle Harry passed away last week, after a very brief battle with brain cancer at the age of 85. And as I was flying back home to Colorado after attending the funeral services, I couldn’t help but think about all of the love, admiration and comments made about my uncle. I know that it happens at every memorial service, as we all look for the good things to remember and hold on to about our closest friends and family. But as I watched the scrolling video loop of my uncle’s life and listened as people shared their stories, that same pride welled up inside of me, and ignited a passion of who I want to be and what I want to do in this world. He was a difference-maker in the lives of so many people and I hope to be a difference-maker too.


I have heard it said in several ways, but there will come a time in all of our lives when we will say one of two things: “I wish I had” or “I am glad that I did.” If you are still reading this column, then this is the part where you can take action and think of all the things that you are so glad that you did, and then make a list of all of the things you wish you had done and get busy making plans to do them. There is a difference-maker in each and every one of us. Whether we do something little that makes a big difference in this world, or we do something big that makes a little difference in our community or within our family, we can do something that positively impacts the lives of others.

Are you like my Uncle Harry? I’ll bet you have your own Uncle Harry and source of inspiration in your own life, and I would love to hear all about that person at And when we can take a lesson from a life well lived, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach, and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

Support Local Journalism

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User