What Will Be Your Legacy?
Posted by Todd Smith
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Have you ever thought about how you want to be remembered? At your funeral, as people reflect on the type of person you have been, your accomplishments and the experiences they have had with you, what will be the dominant thoughts in their minds? When they listen to your eulogy, what would you like for them to hear?
I remember when my family and I watched a television show called Undercover Boss. This particular episode featured Rick Arquilla, president and COO of Roto-Rooter.
Rick went undercover and posed as a rank-and-file employee to determine what it’s really like to work in the trenches of his own company. Needless to say, it was a humbling and eye-opening experience.
At the conclusion of the show, his eyes swelled with tears as he spoke about his employees. He said, “I don’t want to be remembered as just the guy who helped Roto-Rooter earn profits.” He went on to say he wanted to be remembered as the guy who made a difference in the lives of his employees.
Internationally-recognized leadership expert John C. Maxwell said, “Too often, leaders put their energy into organizations, buildings, systems, or other lifeless objects. But only people live on after we are gone. Everything else is temporary.”
My mentor, Jim Rohn, whose legacy will be recognized for generations to come, said, “The legacy we leave is part of the ongoing foundations of life. Those who came before leave us the world we live in. Those who will come after will only have what we leave them. We are stewards of this world, and we have a calling in our lives to leave it better than how we found it, even if it seems like such a small part.”
Author Ken Dychtwald and his colleagues at his company, Age Wave, discovered four “pillars of legacy” when conducting a survey amongst the elder generation and their baby boomer children. These pillars are: values and life lessons, instructions and wishes to be fulfilled, possessions of emotional value, and property and money.
Guess which pillar was most important to the survey participants.
Values and life lessons.
Dychtwald observed that “There’s this enormous craving, this desire for people in their maturity to share what they’ve learned, to pass on lessons of a lifetime, to teach, to feel that their life experience is being invested, even planted, into the field of tomorrow.” Dychtwald also found that “there was a similar response—a natural, innate appetite on the part of younger generations—to receive that.”
Now back to the Undercover Boss. Rick Arquilla’s comments reminded me of the soul-searching process I went through last year. Like Rick, I didn’t want to be remembered as just a successful entrepreneur.
I have been blessed to enjoy a unique career that has given me the opportunity to observe thousands of people both succeed and fail. And I have acquired unique insights and perspectives into what it takes to achieve your personal and professional best.
I found myself feeling a sense of responsibility to take the lessons I have learned over the last 30 years and “infuse” that knowledge into the minds of others.
This blog is the first step in creating my legacy. Each post shares my life lessons with the hope it will help others reach higher and achieve more than they would have without the benefit of my experiences.
So, what will your legacy be?
Even if you are in your teens or early 20s, it’s not too early to begin thinking about the life you want to live and the imprint you want to leave on the world.
It is easy to be selfish and only think about your personal desires, but I want to challenge you to start thinking about what you can do to make our world a better place for future generations.
While there are many things we can’t control, we can control how we are remembered.
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