Your Living Legacy

Where were you on September 11th?  How about when the news broke out about Michael Jackson’s passing? Or Farrah Fawcett’s?  How about Billy Mays’s?  Or Steve McNair’s?

What thoughts went through your mind? Did you think of your own mortality?  Did you imagine your own passing?

Key events and deaths have a way of getting our attention.  For some these events can be life changing.  For others these events should be life changing.  These pivotal moments in history are markers or “signs” for each of us to push ourselves to re-evaluate our lives.

If you had passed…

  • Who would you miss?
  • What might you regret?
  • Have you wronged anyone that you have still yet to right?

When you think of Michael Jackson what comes to mind?

  • Odd,
  • Amazing
  • Weird
  • Talented
  • A positive force
  • A negative fore

Whether he likes it or not, all of those things are his legacy.  He will forever be seen as a legend in the music world and as a person he will be viewed as someone to feel sorry for or to be disgusted by.

What about you?  How about your life?  What is your legacy? What would you like it to be?

Each year I try to ask myself a series of questions including  these:

  • What type of father do I want to be?
  • What do I want for my children?
  • What type of husband do I want to be?
  • What do I want my marriage to be like?

I have a beautiful wife and we have been married for 13 years.  I have two lovely children who are seven and ten.  So far we are doing pretty well.  But I know there is more to do.  There is more on my list.

I have a great deal of unfinished business—not just personally, but professionally as well.   It is an on-going journey.  I can let the twists and turns of life architect my legacy or I can architect it myself.

We talk about celebrities every day, but spend little time thinking about and examining our own lives.  How acutely have you thought about the legacy you will leave? Have you written down goals and taken purposeful actions to achieve them?

Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, and Tiger Woods have all been deliberate in their choices.  Each of them had to overcome challenges, maintain determination, become extremely disciplined, and say “no” to certain people and things along the way to achieve what they have.

What if they had not been resolute in chasing their dreams?

  • What would be the top selling album of all time?
  • What would basketball look like?
  • Without Microsoft, Apple would not be what it is today because their inceptions and growth were inexplicably linked.
  • How many young people would not be exposed to golf without Tiger’s influence?

Without the efforts of each of these individuals our lives would be very different and we would not see them in the way that we do.  We would not remember any of them after they were gone.

How have you influenced the lives of others?  How do people see you?  How will they remember you?  Personally?  Professionally?  Most significantly, what sort of legacy will you leave behind without taking action?  Without pursuing your passion; your dreams?

William Wallace said, “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.”

Charles Darwin said, “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is not length of life, but depth of life.”

Live each moment. Use that hour.  Go deep.

Ask yourself, “What is my story?”  Or “How do I want my story to read?”

Figure it out and start on it today.  After all, it is awfully apparent tomorrow may not come.  And yet your legacy, whatever it is, will live on after you have departed…like it or not.

6 thoughts on “Your Living Legacy

  1. Thanks for the article. Everyone needs to live ones life to the fullest. As it is rightly said in this article, we need to spend time evaluating ourselves before we speak about others.

  2. It is said that the only real legacy that anyone leaves is their children. This is true in terms of genetics and the ongoing family. Some people achieve fame and fortune, but those things are not a true legacy.
    Those who are determined to achieve fame and fortune do so at the sacrifice of their families. The notion of advancing one’s self is by definition selfish and vain.

    • I am not sure I agree with your total premise. I agree fame and fortune are not real legacies and clearly not the intent of the post. However, I look at Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and others. They have had a real impact on society. Even with those who gain fame and fortune, it is only shallow if they do not use it to better something or someone. When using the term legacy you could replace it with the word “impact.”

  3. Leaving a legacy is not an option…A legacy is what we WILL leave behind for others. There is no doubt that no matter how significant or insignificant a person’s life may seem, we ALL will leave a legacy that will impact others…negatively or positively. Every interaction we have leaves an impression. A smile at a store clerk, a nod in the elevator…it is not about how well known I am or how much money I was able to give or leave…it is about the benefit and impact of my presence within a group or with individuals that I encounter. Just Be!!

  4. This winter I audited a Positive Psychology class where the first exercise was to write our legacy. At first I thought it would be hard but I actually found it very easy. It truly makes you focus on what is important in your life and how you will want to be remembered. By doing this exercise provides you with an opportunity to change what you can NOW – today in the presence.

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