Legacy is a buzzword. Everyone wants to leave one, to do something that resonates throughout history. Nobody wants to be forgotten. But how do you want to be remembered? Some people, who are caught in cover-ups or who commit scandals or even just disappoint their families by letting their families down, leave legacies they wish they hadn’t. That doesn’t have to be you.
If you want to be remembered 100 years from now—and to be remembered fondly—what you do today will determine whether that’s possible. The most promising path to that kind of immortality is via humility, nobility, self-sacrifice, and thinking of others. 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. 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 and then we forget about the principle for ourselves. Is going into debt today for a $50,000 car really worth not having the money tomorrow for your son’s education? Does the satisfaction of a well-timed volley of sarcasm mean more to you than the relationship it might cost you? 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, and 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 quick definition you might’ve heard before (it’s from the Bible): “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 that exchanges cards on the anniversary of their first date, their engagement, their first home closing. Be the family that celebrates achievements, historical markers, memories, and anniversaries.Become an advocate for what you believe in, and then allow your belief system to guide you into action.
10. Find a wrong and right it.
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 some self-examination.
Sound off: What do you want your legacy to be?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What good things do you hope people say about you when you’re not around?”