The Subtle Power Of Witness Marks


Most often, when we think about our legacies, if we stop to think about them at all, we’re looking many years into the future. This can be particularly true as we think about the businesses we’re building or the plans we’re helping our clients make for the future. We wonder about the big stuff we can do that will have a huge impact on others. (Maybe even when we’re no longer in this world.) That long-term thinking can keep us from taking action on living with purpose and focusing on making a difference on a daily basis.

In this episode, I dial the idea of leaving a legacy back as I share the concept of “witness marks.” They’re small legacies we can leave everyday as we live to serve others in our work and in our personal lives. They can be tools for living more intentionally. For being the truest versions of ourselves. And for transforming our lives and the lives of those around us.

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Show Highlights

Podcast Transcript


(00:05): You’re listening to the truest fan podcast. And now here’s your host, Rob Brown.


(00:14): Hello, friends, welcome. Before I get started with today’s podcast, I’d like to ask a couple of favors. First, if you’ve been listening to this podcast, and you like what you’ve been hearing, I’d appreciate a review, just go to your favorite podcast station, whether it’s Apple or Spotify or Google and give us a rating, it would be great to know what you think and leave a comment. Second, also, if you’re enjoying the podcast, if you feel like though the messages that I’ve been sharing with you, the ideas I’ve been sharing would be helpful for others, please share it with them, I want to spread the word, I want to make sure that this message is getting out to as many people that it will benefit as possible. So that’s it for my commercial for today. Let’s jump in.

(01:03): Today I want to talk about making a mark or building a legacy. You know, in the work that I do with financial advisors, as I help them build their businesses, one of the things that they often tell me is they want to make sure that with their business, they are going to leave a legacy that there’s something that they can leave behind to their business partner to their family to others, that will really show that the work that they have done has been important. And that may result in a big financial payoff, it may result in an opportunity to make charitable gifts that are bigger than they ever thought possible. You never know what way that may turn out.

(01:48): It could be big. Also, those same advisors have clients for whom they’re investing and putting together financial plans. So, in a way, they’re in the business of helping their clients build legacies, leave marks, do something big, help people really remember what their lives and their purpose has been all about. And I think that’s great. I think that’s awesome. That is a very important part of the way that we live as truest fans in trying to live with purpose and impact. But at the same time, I don’t think that legacy needs to be this giant, forward thinking goal all the time, it’s really something that we should be thinking about each and every day. Because there are smaller ways to leave daily legacies, there are ways to leave your marks on people from day to day from week to week.

(02:46): I was reading my daily devotional last month, one of my favorite resources is called our daily bread. And in that devotional, I learned about something that I don’t think I’d ever heard of before it’s called a witness mark. In a witness mark is perhaps a mark that the maker of a grandfather clock would put inside of that clock to help somebody who might be coming in behind them to make a repair or to do the maintenance on the clock that would start them in the right direction. Because after all, back in the days, when they were making lots and lots of grandfather clocks, you couldn’t go on Google and look up the instructions for you know, putting it together, there wasn’t even, you know, a paper instruction guide inside. So, they had to leave the small witness marks kind of as a favor to the next person or the next generation who might come in behind to make repairs to these great clocks.

(03:47): And I don’t know about you, I actually think of grandfather clocks, somewhat, I guess. So, I’m not sure what the right word, it is kind of an emotional thing. Because when I think of grandfather clocks, I think of the clocks that my grandparents had in their home, and I loved listening to the sounds that they made the chimes and the bells ringing. We had for years a grandfather clock in our home that my wife Laurie’s grandfather made it honestly didn’t work. But we just loved having it there because it made us think of the workmanship. And so when I was thinking about those witness marks, I was thinking how cool that was that people who would be building these time machines are these machines tell us time maybe is the right way to say that would leave these marks to help other people along the way who would come in and need to need to use them to be able to do repair or maintenance and then as good fortune would have it.

(04:47): A couple of weeks later, I was watching one of my new infatuations the Motor Trend Channel that has all of these awesome car repair shows on it and when you watch these shows you see these big machines that people use to, you know, to bend metal or these torches people below to meld different pieces together is like, wow, this is crazy stuff. But then one of the shows they actually showed making, they didn’t call it this but making a witness mark, it was a way that a bolt was turned and marked, so that it would match up with where it needed to end up.

(05:26): If a part was taken out of a car and put back in, I thought, wow, witness marks, they’re still alive today. That’s not just grandfather clocks. It’s also in modern day sports cars, or in the case of the shows that I watched, they’re constantly renovating cars or turning them into race cars or custom cars. It’s just, it’s just fascinating to me. But there’s these little witness marks that help people make sure that the car keeps running, if they have to make changes, if they have to make repairs. I thought wow, that’s a that’s a really cool thing. And it brought me back to that devotional that talked about the fact that in our lives, we have opportunities all of the time to leave witness marks behind.


(06:20): Are you ready to discover your true purpose, live with impact and build an ever-greater legacy than you need to make time for what truly matters most go to truest To begin the free, truest fan seven day QuickStart.


(06:45): You know, it could be just that kind word that you say to somebody that picks them up and keeps them going. When they’re having a bad day, it could be the smile to the stranger that you pass in the street that looks a little bit down. It could be that small gift you make to a needy person you run into on the street who’s asking for help, not wondering why they might need that help, just trusting that that little witness mark that you could leave behind could be helpful to them. Of course, we can leave witness marks with our families. And we probably don’t do that as much as we should, you know, telling our spouses and our kids how much we love them and care for them. And in doing that in different ways and different times and different places.

(7:35): You can come with our clients. So if you’re running a business, if you’re like, one of my clients who runs a financial advisory practice, there’s all sorts of opportunities to leave witness marks behind in the people that you may meet who you would like to consider becoming a client of your practice, and just leaving that little sign that you’re more than just the financial plan, that you may help them put together that you’re a witness mark for them, that will help them advance as they build their legacy. It could be that witness mark that you leave with a client when you want to tell them what a great job they’re doing when they are consistently following through on the things that they say they’re going to do to be able to accomplish their big goals, whether it’s retirement or college planning, or maybe leaving a big legacy because they’re doing some philanthropic planning.

(8:24): You just never know when that witness mark when that small little mark, that small legacy that you intentionally go about means more than just the little bit of time that it took to do it. It could be an attaboy to say, hey, great job, really proud to see what you’re doing as you’re standing beside a coworker or somebody that you’re a customer of when you go into a store or restaurant just encouraging them on, we all need to receive witness marks, those attaboys, those congratulations, those smiles, those kind words. They mean a ton to us. It might be just, you know, lending an ear might be saying, you know, do you need somebody to talk to? Would you like me to listen to you a little bit?

(09:10): Maybe that’s another witness mark that you could leave. As many of you probably know in my book truest fan. Lesson number four is smiles and kind words go a long way. It’s one of the seven important lessons that I teach in that book, then it’s all about thinking about ways that we can leave these witness marks. What can we do each day to help other people to lift other people up? And in doing that we’re probably lifting ourselves up too. I share in the book, a little story about the character who puts you know five coins in his left pocket at the beginning of the day with the idea of those five coins traveling from his left pocket to his right pocket and back again, by intentionally giving smiles and kind words and encouragement to people throughout the day.

(10:04): So maybe if you’re resonating with this idea of witness marks and thinking, you know, it’s something I like to do, but it’s also something that is really easy to put off and not do because it can get lost in the hustle of the day, you know, create a little game for yourself, maybe it’s with those five pennies or a checkmark that you know, put on a notepad, a lot of different ways to do it, but make it intentional, because I believe and that’s why I included this lesson in truest fan. It’s really important that we lift each other with our smiles and kind words because the world is full of people who would be more than happy to bring us down.

(10:44): I was reading a quote just this morning from Doug Larson think Doug Larson was a columnist. I really am not familiar with him. But he says bad news travels fast. Good news takes the scenic route, does that resonate with you? It resonates with me as I think about these witness marks. We’re slow sometimes, or I’m sorry, we’re quick sometimes to hear or to give or deliver bad news or to, excuse the phrase, bitch and moan about something tough or rough is going on in our lives. But we aren’t necessarily as quick to pick up the page, pick up the pieces and walk along more quickly with that good news with those smiles and those kind words in that encouragement.

(11:24): I want to end this podcast with one last story because as I was pulling out the mic to record the podcast, a small keychain dropped from the mic. And it’s a it’s a keychain that is just made with some beads and some yarn and it has these little some of the beads or these plastic beads with letters that spell out my name Rob and that little keychain was the gift from one of the members, a little girl in a family that we were fortunate enough to provide a place to live in our home when they migrated here from Burkina Faso. They live with us for several months. And the time they spent with us was an absolute blessing it was it was actually probably more way more than just a witness mark.

(12:16): It was a true legacy for my wife Laurie and I because we’ll never forget the connection that we had and the things that we were able to do and learn from each other as we were kind of guiding our way through this unchartered territory them moving to this country, just this is amazing to me, they barely been here before and they were coming here trusting that they could find a good place to live. And we had this great community supporting them. And Laurie and I, we’re able to do our little part by just giving them the space in our home even though it wasn’t something we had ever planned for.

(12:50): Those were those marks. Those were witness marks to each other but in particular, when I was thinking about this podcast and talking about witness marks, I thought to myself, you know, Rob, you have a witness mark hanging in front of you every day because this little keychain that hangs on my mic is on my desk, and I can choose to see it and remember that witness mark and all that it means to me all that this precious little girl and her family means to me or I can just look past it thinking I’m too busy. I don’t have enough time. But she took the time to create a witness mark. How awesome and how much easier it is just to share a kind word or smile with someone as you leave witness marks along the way. So, I really want to encourage you to take action.

(13:36): That’s one of the most important things that I want to drive home with this podcast is living as a truest fan, being a truest fan means taking action and action doesn’t necessarily mean making huge changes because sometimes it’s the small changes that we do consistently leaving those witness marks that are the most transformational when you’re trying to be the very best version of you. So as always, I want to remind you, I am your truest fan. I hope this podcast leaves a small witness mark with you and encourages you to take action. And don’t forget to leave us a review give us a rating on your favorite podcast station. Thanks so much for listening.

Take care.

Rob Brown

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