“The choices we make about the lives we live determine the kinds of legacies we leave” Tavis Smiley, Author
In the wake of some high profile deaths in recent weeks including David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Glenn Frey, the reflections on their respective legacies have been well documented in the public domain.
How many re-runs of Bowie and Frey’s music and Rickman’s movies either online or on TV have you seen?
And then there are the replays of interviews over the years and the numerous commentaries celebrating their lives all within hours of their passing.
Leaving a mark
These guys have all left behind immensely creative, artistic, humanistic and political achievements. Their art, words, voices, characters and stories will survive the test of time.
There’s no doubt that their amazing hard work, dedication to their craft and huge talent are chiselled within our memories synonymous with various milestones in our lives.
They have literally influenced millions of people’s feelings, thoughts, choices made, careers, families and relationships.
Yet, the influence of a legacy is not just the domain of public figures.
We all have the opportunity to hand down the gifts of our own lives to the people we love.
Your personal legacy
Experiencing the loss of someone we have a strong connection to, famous or not, will naturally leave us reflecting on the impact of their lives but also the value of our own life.
This includes the choices we make and the kinds of values we live by.
Our own mortality can be confronting.
However, identifying our legacy, as we live our life today, is a wonderful opportunity for personal growth, not just for others to acknowledge when we die.
A legacy is often associated with money or property. However, it’s also more significantly about how we influence what’s in the minds and hearts of the people that matter most to us.
It’s very much about the way in which we live our life today.
A personal legacy is often associated with personal attitudes, beliefs, values, ideas, specific skills, behaviours and actions that leave their mark on people as well as a whole community.
The brainstorm below describes some of these features.
Warm, welcoming, patient, passionate, baking, painting, cooking, gardening, business, funny, musical, loving, dancing, sporty, faith, family, generosity, resilience, risk taking, hard work, spiritual beliefs, helping others, pride of accomplishment, volunteer work, physically active, humble, humility, sense of community, passionate, spontaneous, loyal, wise…
What kind of person are you?
In developing a strong sense of your own legacy, try this simple exercise.
Spend a moment or three on this scenario.
Imagine it’s your 80th birthday celebration! All your family and friends are there. Imagine where you might want this celebration to take place.
Lots of people choose to stand up and give a talk about you and the life you have led.
What kind of qualities/values do you hope they would describe about you as a person?
What actions/behaviours do you hope they would remember about you as a person?
Take the time to look at your responses to the questions above. Reflect for a moment on whether you are living out these values, skills, behaviours or qualities right now in your life today.
What are your personal legacy qualities, values and behaviours?
Please share them in the comments section below.