To me, legacy is not something we leave at the end of our life. It is something we build every day in the way we live our life. As I gave the topic some more thought, it seemed to me there were three main areas where we leave a legacy.
With your family and closest friends
These are the people we love most dearly and hope to touch in our lives and leave a lasting impact. To help you think about the legacy you want to leave with this important group of people, I challenge you to think of three words you would hope they would all use to describe the impact you have had on them.
After determining what those three words are, go to your family and closest friends and ask them what three words they would use to describe the impact you are having on them right now. I did this, and although the words my friends and family shared were kind and humbling, they were not the words I had hoped they would say. Although it was a bit distressing, it was a wonderful gift because now I can focus more closely on the impact I want to leave on all of them.
All of us impact our community through the civic groups we belong to, the boards we serve, and the charities to which we donate our time and money. To understand the impact you are having in this arena, imagine that somebody new just moved to town and asked someone in the community to tell them about you. What would you want them to say? How would you like them to describe the kind of person you are and the sort of impact you are having on our community? Then think about what you’re doing in your life right now and what you might need to change to make that story real.
No matter what level you are in the organization you work in, every one of us has the opportunity to leave an impact on our coworkers. When you’re a member of a team, you lead one other person or are the CEO/owner of the business. Consequently, everything you do impacts the people in your organization. What is the legacy you want to leave in your company? How do you want to contribute to your coworkers’ success and the business’s long-term success? What can you do today to make sure you are taking the actions necessary to make a strong positive impact on your company and leave a lasting legacy of leadership?
The “Eulogy” Workshop
There is another exercise that many people use to bring the idea of legacy into sharp focus. It is a difficult and emotionally challenging exercise, but it can change the trajectory of your life if done honestly. It is called the “eulogy” workshop. Go someplace where you are comfortable and can focus without being interrupted. Then take a notepad and very thoughtfully write the answers to these questions:
If you were to attend your funeral and listen to the eulogies spoken on your behalf:
What would you hope your family members would say about you?
What would you like to hear your closest friends say about the impact you had on their lives?
And finally, what would you hope the people in your community who attended your funeral would say about the legacy you have left and the impact you had on them?
If you take this exercise seriously, it will likely make you cry (I did), but it will also help you deeply understand what is most important to you and how you want people to remember you. The most important part of this workshop is realizing you don’t have to wait until the end of your life. You can look at the things you wrote and start doing what is necessary today to live your legacy on purpose.
If you want to get in contact with me, I’d love to hear from you. Please visit my site at https://johnspence.com/contact/ and let me know how I can help.