Leaving behind a legacy is not only about money or gifts. According to Webster’s Dictionary, one definition of legacy is “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”
How many times have you considered the importance of leaving behind a “legacy” that will have a lasting impression on your predecessors? Personally speaking, until now, whenever I thought of my attempt at leaving behind a legacy to my children, I’ve always thought about my inability to bequeath some prodigious monetary gift that quite frankly, I have yet to obtain. One that would cause everyone’s jowls to drop to the floor when the attorney called everyone together around some long cherry-wood table to read my last will and testament. A recompense that would leave the chosen ones set for life because I left them more dollars than they could have ever imagined. But what if I told you that the legacy is not in the “what have you done for me lately” handout as much as it is in “what have I done to others and how will I be remembered when I’m gone?”
Every day, we all have experiences and encounters with others that have the power to change lives (knowingly or unknowingly) forever. We experience others through conversations and interactions that can sometimes leave a person with a perception about themselves (or you) that can either be edifying or demoralizing; only to move on from the experience seemingly oblivious to the impact.
Consider, if you will, the manager/subordinate relationship. The subordinate goes to work every day, spending countless hours working for an individual/organization whom they would like to believe really cares about what happens to him or her outside of the 40-hour work week. Someone who genuinely takes an interest in their well-being or that of their family/loved ones. Believe it or not, this is where many of us spend most of our lives. Some of us spend more time with our office families than we do with our own families and these relationships are quite impactful. However, in some instances, the leader’s only concern is how the employee’s performance impacts the “bottom-line.” Sometimes the relationship becomes so distant and impersonal that the employee’s only motivation comes from looking forward to the end of their workweek.
While it is doubtful that the boss’ family views him the same way or shares the same type of experiences. What we know for sure is that those encounters with his subordinates will have an impact on how he is remembered by the employees in the end, which thereby becomes part of his legacy.
Our legacies are the impressions that we leave to anyone who has experienced us firsthand or by various degrees of separation. The things we say or the actions we take do matter. Sometimes to people whose paths we will never directly cross other than by way of impact. Please be mindful that how we treat others will affect how they treat the next person. Imagine your words and actions as having a trickle-down effect. Get the picture now?
When it comes to your legacy, aside from the relationships you have with your predecessors, bosses, mentors, or leaders; how have you impacted or been impacted by the words, encounters, or experiences of others? Looking beyond all of the chronological fluff that will be read by the friend or family member who has the courage to stand before a large crowd to inform everyone where you were born, what schools you attended, how many times you’ve been married or who preceded you in death (as if no one knew this information already); what will be said at your eulogy? Or better yet, what legacy will you leave behind? Were you authentically considerate, kind, loving, purposeful, and encouraging with your encounters? If so, then good for you. May your gracious spirit live on! However, if there is anything that you could change about what would be recited at your final celebration, what would it be?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be remembered as someone who only cared about herself. I want to change lives in a positively unforgettable and authentically mindful manner that transfers as a love that shines brighter in the universe. Sure, we would all love to leave behind a huge fortune to our loved ones but is that what truly matters in the end?
My final question to you is, how would you change the narrative of your interactions to reflect a legacy that will transcend your highest self? I would love to hear from you.