Leaving a Legacy

The need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution. – Stephen Covey

William James wrote, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” In Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, Daniel Goleman warns, “Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large.”

He goes on to say, “..when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”

We live in a time where the hoarders, the excluders and the “antis,” who are quick to tell you what they are against but are unable to articulate what they stand for are circling their wagons. The bravest souls are those who would walk among them, and as Dolly Parton once put it, “inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.”

Peter Strople writes, “Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.”

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones,” said Shannon Adler. “A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

In time all but a few of us will fade into obscurity. What remains are the tiny threads of our individual action (or inaction), which combine to build strong cables capable of lifting character and conscience or strangling it. Our contributions, no matter how small, either move civilization forward, or destroy it.

Motivational sage, Jim Rohn said, “All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.”

Leaving a legacy can be as simple as becoming a role model where you work. “Even though your time on the job is temporary,” notes Idowu Koyenikan, “if you do a good enough job, your work there will last forever.”

Persevere through good days and the bad. Every endeavor includes peaks and valleys. And sometimes a person makes their mark in the darkest hours.

“If you’re going to live,” wrote the poet Maya Angelou, “leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.”

Negative people have been with us throughout history. They say things can’t be done while dreamers do them. They revel in destruction but are afraid to do the harder work necessary for meaningful creation.

And each negative person carries the potential to be inspired, for better or worse, by your example.

Benjamin Disraeli, himself quite a mercurial guy said, “The legacy of heroes is.. the inheritance of a great example.”

Set that great example.

Warren Buffett said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Never stop planting.

The quotable John Allston wrote, “The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind.”

Leave and legacy worth following.