I once saw a poster that made a lasting impact. On it was written: Will it matter that I was?
I recognized, in that instant, that I was on earth for a reason. I hadn’t a clue what it was, but I was hell-bent on finding it.
Every one of us leaves a legacy, but in my experience, surprisingly few reflect on what they want theirs to be. Yet, it’s an important point for us all to ponder.
I remember reading an article by a hospice physician about how many of her patients were “deeply disturbed” because they hadn’t “contributed anything significant to life.”
She had a profound realization: “It is far better to contemplate the meaning of life when we actually have some time left to work on the question.”
If you haven’t already, now is the time to contemplate your legacy. How? Ask yourself ‘What do I want my obituary to say?’
You’ve heard of Alfred Nobel who created the Nobel Peace Prize, right? But did you know he was the inventor of dynamite and made his fortune manufacturing weapons of war? In 1888 when his brother died, newspapers published Alfred’s obituary by mistake.
“The merchant of death is dead,” the obituary stated. “Dr. Alfred Nobel became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.”
Aghast at the thought this would be his lasting legacy, he bequeathed almost his entire estate to establish the Nobel Prize.
“By asking ourselves how we want to be remembered,” explain authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book A Leader’s Legacy, “we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter.”
When you live your life as if you matter, the size or scope of your impact is irrelevant.
Your legacy need not light up the sky. It need leave only the slightest footprint in the sand.
All that matters is that your legacy makes you proud, brings you pleasure and inspires or uplifts another.
I’d love to hear about the legacy you wish to leave. Tell me about it in the comments below.