This past week I’ve received a few important messages – not by email, phone or letter – but by the passing, or changes in the lives, of some noteworthy leaders, and who reminded me of a favourite story about Mahatma Gandhi.

Once while Mahatma Gandhi’s train was pulling slowly out of the station, a reporter ran up to his compartment window. ‘Do you have a message I can take back to my people?’ he asked. It was Gandhi’s day of silence, respite from his demanding speaking schedule, so he didn’t reply. Instead, he scrawled a few words on a scrap of paper and passed it to the reporter: ‘My life is my message.’

Gandhi worked throughout India attempting to be the change in the world that he hoped to see. A man of compassion and service to others, Gandhi lived his truth.

So this week, I’d like to pay tribute to a few other leaders, in the world of politics, business and community, who lived (or are living) their message.

Last week, politician Jack Layton, leader of the NDP and of the Opposition, lost his life to cancer. Just days before his death he wrote this in a letter to Canadians: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

An inspiring man and politician, Layton died just months after leading his party to a historic election victory, but his optimism and hope for change live on.

Leaving the world stage in another way but still living, iconic business leader, innovator and creative genius Steve Jobs, just resigned as CEO of Apple.

In an address to Stanford graduates a few years ago Jobs gave this message: “You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life… Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

I don’t think anyone would call Jobs “foolish” but with courage and phenomenal innovation he has “connected the dots” to create one of the greatest computer companies of the modern era.

This week also marks the (13th) anniversary of the death of my mother, a generous community leader and activist whose life touched many – most certainly, her five children’s. My mother’s message (engraved on her gravestone) was simple: “Love one another.”

When we live what we believe – when we walk the talk – our life becomes our message, and one that can inspire or motivate others.

Perhaps Shakespeare said it best: “This above all, to thine own self be true.” By being true to ourselves – our words, actions and intentions — we liberate others to do the same.

From authenticity flows honour… and truly inspired action.

The best way to spread your message is to live it.

Jack Layton was a different kind of politician who lived, and acted on, his message of love, hope and optimism for a better country; Steve Jobs is stepping down as CEO of Apple but leaves a legacy of unbridled ingenuity and vision; and my mom’s message – well, what greater force is there than love, for a better world and an unlimited future?

In my life (while I’m here and upon my exit), I’d like to leave an equally simple message: Live well. Love deeply. Inspire and be inspired.

Thanks for being here.

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Author's Bio: 

I’m a girl from the Canadian prairies who likes wide-open spaces, fresh ideas, a great story, and inspiring environments, buildings and art of all kinds. I have written feature stories about architecture, urban, rural and lakeside living, cool neighbourhoods, and everything from business to pleasure (tourism and travel).

I believe that powerful writing, too, can link the artistic with the practical.

My feature writing has appeared in: Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, The Western Producer, The Cottager, Manitoba Business Magazine, Manitoba’s Northern Experience, Home & City, Manitoba Gardener, Ciao and up! (WestJet’s magazine).

Barbara Edie