Legacy is a huge buzzword in today’s world. Everyone wants to do something that resonates throughout history. Then, while they’re working on their entry for TIME magazine’s next “Greatest Leaders of the Century” edition, someone catches them in a scandal or a cover-up and, there you have it – legacy by default. Default of the guy acting without integrity. How do you want to be remembered?
We all want to be remembered – fondly – 100 years from now. But the most promising path to that kind of immortality is via humility, nobility, self-sacrifice, and thinking of others. Have you taken the time to think about your legacy? Here are 10 ways to be remembered 100 years from now.
1. Don’t live for your legacy – live for your family
Legacy building is counterproductive as an end to itself. People who value their family above their own ego tend to be remembered for generations.
2. Find your passion
Philosopher Howard Thurman said this: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
3. Defer short-term gratification for long-term satisfaction
We work hard to teach this to our children; then we forget about the principle for ourselves! Is today’s 62-inch TV really as important as your son’s future education? Is the satisfaction of a well-timed volley of sarcasm worth the cost to relationships? Or is this one-night-stand a good substitute for a lifetime of commitment?
4. Build other people up
Ask this question, every day, “What can I do to encourage my wife, my kids, my co-workers, my friends…?”
5. Be an honorable person
What’s better than money? Your reputation. What’s more lasting than fame? Your integrity. What are future generations more likely to talk about than the coolness of the car you drove? The honor and nobility of the man who may well have taken a bus to work every day for all they know.
6. Define your life in terms of giving rather than taking
You don’t have to be a rich philanthropist with your name on a wall to be remembered. Do what you can; give with all your heart. Lives defined by generosity make indelible marks on history.
7. Be authentic
Share your real self with your children; talk openly with your spouse; let your friends in. Men who build walls around their hearts and souls are not remembered – because nobody knows them. Tell the stories. How can we be remembered if we won’t allow ourselves to be known?
8. Love your family
Does this sound like a no-brainer? Well, a lot of us could use a primer on love. Here’s a quickie definition from the Bible that works – “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Develop a culture of celebration in your family. Be like the family observing the 100th anniversary of great-grandparents coming to America, or the couple who exchange cards on the anniversary of their first date, their engagement, their first home closing, etc. Be the family that celebrates achievements, historical markers, memories, and anniversaries.
10. Find a wrong and right itBecome an advocate for what you believe in, and then allow your belief system to guide you into action.
Maybe your great contribution is in process or yet to come. Become an advocate for what you believe in, and then allow your belief system to guide you into action. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Maybe your legacy will emerge in response to self-examination and a long-term commitment to faith.