What is Your Legacy?
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When we think of the word ‘legacy’ we often think of people who we believe have achieved greatness - the speaker of that Ted Talk we watched that movie star we waited to see on screen, the entrepreneur we read about in magazines, that philanthropist we so admire. When we watch, or listen to, or read about such people, we feel drawn to their stories, inspired by their work and their lives, and it often begs the question - what legacy do I want to leave behind? What even is the true meaning of legacy?
Is it passing a family heirloom on to the next generation, something for them to remember us by? Is it the strides we take towards shattering the glass ceiling? Or is it simply the way in which we choose to lead our lives? We have to ask ourselves - what does it mean to be me? How do I want to be remembered? What kind of work do I want to do? How do I want to inspire others? What habits, skills, and qualities do I want to be identified with? What contributions do I want to make to myself, my family, my friends, my peers, and to the society in which I live?
Keeping with it
Look at it this way - all cultures around the world propagate a certain way of life. Generations within those cultures live and pass down the values and traditions of that culture, the ways of doing business and trade within that culture, and other common goals held dear in their society. These elements can also evolve, in fact they must, in order to keep any culture alive.
Now bring that back to yourself. What are the values, traditions, and goals you want to pass along to those around you and those who will come after you? When you look back at the way you’ve done things in the past, you may realize that there are some things you could have done differently. Don't be afraid to reflect in this manner, and to evolve as a result. It is okay to reject notions you may have embraced in the past, to forgive yourself if you haven't always walked the walk, and to explore avenues you may not have considered before. Allow yourself this growth.
What do You Understand
Revisit your understanding of who you are, and think about what it is that you truly want to do with your life. Reflecting upon this will help you understand how close or far you are from where you want to be. Then, start thinking about the actions you will need to take to get there, and mindfully start taking those steps towards the life you want to lead.
CEO of a startup who said that he just wants to be remembered as someone who dreamed then lived it. Through our work in personal branding, we’ve worked closely with so many companies and individuals, and through all those interactions we have come to believe that all of these people have the potential to build the legacy they want to leave behind. You too, have that potential.
Often when thinking so big, people start to feel out of their depth. But your legacy does not have to be this grandiose concept, just focus on what matters to you. Think about others that have inspired similar change in the world or in your life and see what you can learn from them. Your legacy can be the patience you show to children, who may, in turn, grow to be patient; the kindness you show to strangers, who may then choose to pay that forward; the strength you show in trying times, that may cause those around you to feel strong too; or your dedication in following your dreams, that may inspire others to chase their passions as well. When thinking about your legacy, focus on what matters to you.
Remember that all the most inspiring people in the world have one thing in common - they inspire action through their own actions. They don't simply think or speak of doing things, they go out there and they do it. It might not always work but being brave enough to take action towards your goals is the most important step. The more action you take, the more goals you will accomplish, and before you know it you will be living your vision and be well on your way to creating your legacy.