What is it about human beings that we all want to be remembered, be known as more than merely ordinary, be seen as someone who truly made a difference, leave a mark and maybe even make the future a little brighter?
I have been working in the area of estate planning for many years, and I have asked the question – “What do you want your legacy to be” to thousands of people. But I had never been asked that question…until recently. Our CEO, Chris Dennis asked me that very question in our second face-to-face meeting. I was taken aback and had to tell Chris that I would have to think about it and get back to him the following week!
I am also a life coach so I promptly took myself through an Identify What Matters process. I asked myself the following questions and pondered them. Some of the questions I already knew the answer to others not so much.
- What’s important to me?
- What are my core needs and values?
- How do I want my life to touch others? Now and in the future
- What would make me proud?
- If I could to do one thing to improve the world, what would my contribution be?
- How can I increase the well-being of those around me?
- How can I leave my mark on whatever I do?
Over the week, I jotted down the answers to these introspective questions. My words became the building blocks of my legacy philosophy. Knowing what’s important to me, what drives me and how I would like to be remembered creates tremendous clarity…and passion. I found that considering my legacy gave me an internal compass to help me move with purpose and determination even in uncertain times. It also offers a concrete sense of purpose in choosing what I am giving my energy to on a daily basis.
The whole concept of leaving a legacy can also be a deeply powerful way of connecting with others. I explored the connections I have with those who had gone before me (my dad and my brother), to those whose lives I touch in the present (family, friends, colleagues), and those who I may never meet (the families we serve).
And I believe that leaving a legacy isn’t only about leaving what you earned but also what you learned, and we all have an opportunity to make a difference every single day. In my opinion, leaving a legacy doesn’t call for great wealth, fame or even taking giant steps— I don’t have to be a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King to leave a positive mark right now, one that I hope will linger long after I am gone.
I encourage you to take some time and explore what you want to leave behind, as well as, what you want to carry forward.