What kind of legacy do you want to leave? Here in the United States, Father’s Day is almost here. And at this time of year, there’s always a lot of talk about the kind of legacy a father should leave for his children.
But I believe the subject of legacy should apply to more than fathers. That’s because we all leave some kind of legacy – whether we’re trying to or not.
What is a legacy? Something you leave behind. That includes possessions that we pass on to the next generation. But it’s so much more than things. We are all capable of leaving either a positive or negative legacy, based on the people we have influenced and the principles that we have lived and taught.
How To Achieve the Legacy You Want to Leave
1. Choose it.
Here is the legacy I want to leave: I want to add value to the lives of others. When I’m gone, my hope is that those around me will say that I added value to them. How do you discover the “what” of your legacy? Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my Responsibilities? (things I am doing?)
- What are my Abilities? (things I do well)
- What are my Opportunities? (things I should be doing)
Make a list of those items. Then ask yourself which ones lead you to what you want to see passed on to those who come after you. Write down what you discover. Finally, make a commitment to positively impact others by doing these things.
2. Live it.
When should you start leaving the legacy people will remember when you’re dead? While you’re still alive! Grenville Kleiser said it well:
Your life is like a book. The title page is your name, the preface your introduction to the world. The pages are a daily record of your efforts, trials, pleasures, discouragements, and achievements. Day by day your thoughts and acts are being inscribed in your book of life. Hour by hour, the record is being made that must stand for all time. Once the word ‘finis’ must be written, let it then be said of your book that it is a record of noble purpose, generous service, and work well done.
3. Pass it on by every means possible.
Really, the best way to pass on your legacy is described in #2 above: Live it! That’s because people learn best from what they can see. It’s been said that 89% of our learning is visual, so living out what you believe to be important is critical.
But there are other fun ways to pass on your legacy. Be creative.
Some people read to their kids every night. Some leaders create memorable experiences for their teams. Some friends take an annual trip together. In each scenario, there’s the opportunity to do something for another person – to leave something positive behind, like values or principles or positive impact.
Your legacy is written bit by bit every day. By choosing a positive legacy, committing to live it out, and being creative in how you impress it on others, you can succeed in passing it on to the people in your life – everyone from your kids to your boss – with lasting impact.
Your legacy will be written in your biography. What is currently being written in yours?
Made lots of money?
Earned impressive degrees?
Built a big building?
Didn’t make waves?
OR Changed people’s lives?