Late last week, while I was in the middle of attending a conference, listening to a speaker, I learned that my friend, Phil Young, passed away in a tragic car accident. If I’m being honest, I didn’t hear a word from the rest the speaker’s message. I couldn’t concentrate because my heart had sunk.
I was that numb.
In the coming days, as I was reading all of the posts and tributes pouring in on Phil’s Facebook page from his loved ones, friends, business partners, and current/former coworkers, I realized one thing. Those who shared their fondest memories of him didn’t emphasize his career as an actor.
Of course he was talented and worked hard on his craft. However, every post I read was about how he treated people and his relationships with those around him. And from the many comments, it was proof that he truly was a one-of-a-kind person.
Today, not only do I want to share with you who Phil was and how much our friendship meant to me, I want to share lessons he taught me during his short time here on Earth. I feel that sharing his impact with you and the lessons of the legacy he has left behind is the least I can do to honor him.
It is my hope that the lessons he taught me and those he has met in this lifetime will change you in such a positive way that you take action in your own life.
HOW WE MET
I knew Phil for a mere short five years. We originally met on Facebook. He had friended me a little over a year after I started my business with the same company. And I accepted since we had a lot of mutual friends.
Although we had several in-person encounters (he lived in California while I’m here in Dallas), every meeting was meaningful. I remember when we first met in person. We were at a business conference. Phil was on the other side of the hall and once we locked eyes and realized we recognized each other, he ran up to me with open arms and said, “Huonggg!!!” with a big goofy grin. To this day, it makes me smile when I think of that moment because that was the kind of person he was.
For the next several years, I was blessed to see him at our business conferences, catch up, and learn more from him just from our conversations.
With that said, I want to share what I learned from Phil over the course of our friendship.
LESSONS FROM PHIL
YOU RISE BY LIFTING UP OTHERS.
To me, he always strove to be a better version of himself and he didn’t do it alone. He didn’t want to do it alone because it was more important that he took people with him. Whether it was his workouts or his acting, he included others in his goals. Not only did he push himself, but he pushed others, like working out with his dad at the gym or offering advise to his fellow actors on and off set.
BEING A GOOD FRIEND MEANS LISTENING WELL.
Whenever we’d see each other in person, he’d talk to me in such a way that he made it seem like it was just him and I in the room. To me, that’s what makes you not only a good leader, but a good friend.
WHEN COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE, MAKE IT A GOAL TO MAKE THEM FEEL EXTRA SPECIAL.
Time is our most precious commodity. When you use your time on others, you are giving away your most valuable asset. Phil always took the time to ask those around them how they were doing. And yes, when we’d see each other, he would ask me how I was doing before I even had the chance to open my mouth.
BEING YOURSELF IS TRULY LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE.
When you go back and look at all of Phil’s photos on Instagram, you could tell he was always himself. He expressed his passions, enthusiasm, sense of humor, joy, gratitude, you name it. Everything that made him, him, he expressed it. No holding back. You could tell that he didn’t just love life, he was in love with it.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE WAY YOUR LIFE IS, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
I remember when Phil shared on social media that he needed to improve his health. He just didn’t talk about it. And he didn’t wait for people to cheer him on. He was a man of action and went to town. His many pictures at the gym is proof of his sheer commitment and dedication.
GO ALL IN!
Phil lived and breathed the “all or nothing” lifestyle. Going back to some of his old photos, he had such profound thoughts on life and being persistent.In life, it's not the great moments, but the everyday commitments that gets you to those moments. -Phil Young Click To Tweet
Seriously. What a leader!
HAPPINESS AND LIVING A POSITIVE LIFESTYLE DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHETHER YOU SEE IT OR NOT.
Phil was one of the most enthusiastic, happy, and positive people I’ve ever met in my life. Case in point with this gym selfie, haha! He even captioned another one of his pictures with, “Sometimes it’s not just about building the body, but also a positive attitude.” Got that right, my friend. You got that right!
What he taught me is that our own happiness and the way we live does affect others. I hardly ever commented on his posts, but I was watching and he always kept me motivated and thinking from a new perspective. Sometimes people won’t come out and tell you or respond to your actions, but they are watching you.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIPS.
Another thing Phil taught me was that relationships matter. Our connections with others is our legacy because relationships are the only thing we leave behind that’s remembered and matters most.
Are you living your life in such a way that it provides strength, brings encouragement, empowers, and lifts others up to be more? I can say Phil did. Another good one from him? “Giving back is the rent for living on the planet.”
YOU GET TO CHOOSE YOUR LIFE.
Phil believed with all his heart that we get to choose our life. So much so that he used #ChooseUrLife as a hashtag in a lot of his posts. To him, it’s not the matter of life happening to you, but the way you respond.
And it’s the reason why I chose the title for this blog post.
A LIFE OF LOVE.
Phil once shared this quote from Helen Keller he found on a building: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, but must be felt with the heart.” and said, “I wish for us all to strive to this!” And boy did he live a life to leave a mark on others!
In the five years of our friendship, I only have two pictures with Phil. And quite honestly, I feel the reason why we don’t have more is because it was extra important to be in the moment.
I will always cherish this picture of us at a business event with our mutual friends. Look at the energy, fun, joy, and love in each of our faces! What makes me smile every time I see this picture is when you look at Phil, he had extra joy expressed on his face. In fact, of all the photos that’s been shared of him by friends and family, the extra joy he expressed was like a pre-requisite to taking a picture of or with him.
Phil lived a life of love.
By the way, I feel that there is no need to point out which one is Phil in this picture because I’m sure you can figure it out yourself pretty quickly.
Since Phil was an actor, I leave you with this quote, “Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.” -Wayne Dyer
SEE YOU LATER, MY FRIEND.
Phil, I cannot express my heartbreak of losing you. Like I’m sure many feel, I wish I could’ve had more time to spend with you and chances to tell you and remind you how much you meant to me.
I tried not to cry when I found out. But I shed my tears at the thought of you and the kindness you showed me in the time we’ve known each other. Your family is so generous to have shared you with us. I pray for strength and peace for them, your close friends, business partners, and coworkers (past and present), as you have left a massive hole in our lives.
My world is much less brighter now that you’re gone, but I promise to always be positive because of you. Thank you for starting our friendship all those years ago. Thank you for the laughter, fun moments, and your legacy through your actions. Most of all, thank you for being you.
On the professional stage and on the stage of life, you never needed the spotlight on you. But I know and as many of those who love you know, you were a huge superstar.
You shined SO much during your time with us and yet you chose to reflect your light onto others.
Thank you for teaching me so much in the short time I was blessed to have you in my life.
You are right.
We get to choose our life.
I love and already miss you. And I promise you will NEVER be forgotten.
See you on the other side.