What is it you want to leave behind? How do you want other people to remember you and your actions and deeds? I suppose for a parent the answer is easy. They leave their children behind, in the normal course of events, which is a piece of them continuing into the future passing on their genes down their bloodline. But what if their children didn’t reproduce? The bloodline would be lost and the legacy does not materialise.
I believe it’s important that we all consider what mark we stamp on our existence both in business and personally. Building something worthwhile that will continue long after we’re gone that will hopefully benefit other people for years to come. Isn’t that what any civilised society and people should be seeking?
This is not about how much money you leave in your will, or how much you donate to charity. It is more about the impact you have for and on those around you.
Your legacy may change
Remember I said in my regrets post– that as I lay injured from the train crash I realised that what I had been doing in my professional life up until then was not what I wanted to continue doing? My legacy up until then had been defined by my success in the finance world. Now, don’t get me wrong; people need financial advice- they need to be smart with their money and there are many good people helping others achieve financial “savviness”. I am grateful for what I learned in my successful enterprises, but that is not what I want my legacy to be.
Post Paddington, one could argue that my battles with bureaucracy, my standing up to the rail networks and the government were creating a new legacy. I am honoured to have Sir Roger Moore say,
“All of us who travel by train owe Pam and her fellow survivors a debt of gratitude for their tenacity and dedication to improving
— Sir Roger Moore KBE
Yes, part of my legacy will be that I was part of a group of people who made railways in Britain safer. However, the “why” behind my actions is of far more significance to me and how I then moved forward.
What matters to you is part of your legacy
I believe that modern life can often feel as if you are stuck on someone else’s merry-go-round with no way to get off. Someone else is calling the shots, telling you what to do, pushing you to achieve their goals. Isn’t it time you thought about what you want from your life?
Stop and ask yourself that ‘why?’ Why do you do what you do? What is your purpose? What do you want people to say about you once you’re gone? Other people’s views in the here and now are important to us, but they do not define us. Far better that you write your own story and others enjoy reading it, rather than you simply follow somebody else’s script.
The dictionary definition of legacy is clumsy – it talks about property, money, at best, something handed down from the past. I don’t see legacy that way. I see it as impact, change, improving things for others, something others can take forward into the future. I strive to ask myself the ‘why?’ each day and before every action.
Look to the future when thinking about your legacy
If what you are doing, right now, makes sense, makes you feel good, then congratulations. If, on the other hand, you feel a nagging sense of disquiet about your current circumstances, then, change. Don’t live a life that leaves you with regrets for what might have been. There is a whole world out there that needs people to stand up and be counted. It needs people to fulfil their purpose and create possible futures for generations down the line.
Society, business, planets and people are in a constant state of evolution. You can sit on the side-lines and watch, or take part and have an impact. I never was much good at simply watching! It does not need a life-changing event for a change in direction and the chance for your legacy to mean something. As for me, I like the idea of my epitaph saying, “she made a difference.”