Being the month which has become synonymous with the legend of Madiba and the incredible legacy he left behind it got me thinking about how I will be remembered one day? What will I leave behind in life, after all the clamouring for success, money, accolades, joy, comfort, and love is done.
Every one of us is going to leave a legacy. It just depends on what kind. In my mind I’m a loving, people-person who wants to bring out the best in others (especially my family) BUT ‘back at the ranch’ my life tells a very different story. Loving? Perhaps- when I’ve turned off work mode and am not project managing the household. People-person? Perhaps- when I don’t have an Inbox full of emails vying for my attention. Bringing out the best in others? Perhaps- but not in the franticness that is my morning routine shovelling food down my toddlers throat because we’re late- AGAIN.
By that’s just it- life isn’t about what takes place in your mind, life is about what takes place in your moments. Are you proactively considering who you are, what you want to be remembered for and how you should thus be engaging each moment?
This became clearer for me when reading a book titled ‘Bringing up boys’- in which the question was posed: ‘In 30 years’ time what do you want your son to be like?’ So for example if you want him to be patient, kind and considerate then you need to be mindfully modelling patience, kindness and consideration in your dealings with him and others rather than reactively lashing out when those morning moments of food wars arise as in my case.
Greater awareness brings with it greater choice. So the more we understand ourselves and our lives, the better equipped we are to make the right choices – to leave the legacy we want to leave.
Kathy Caprino wrote the following which are useful questions in determining the legacy you’re leaving behind and how you’ll be remembered:
- Ask your clients and colleagues to give you an honest appraisal of what it’s like to engage and interact with you, and how it can be improved.
- Request your family members and friends to share the one most positive thing and the one most challenging thing that stands out about you over all the rest (and ask them to be brutally honest).
- Take a critical look this month at what you’re putting out there on social media and in your personal and professional communications – Is it more about you or more about others? Is it self-serving or other-serving?
- Examine the testimonials you’ve received– what do people share about you? Is it all about your talents and skills and success outcomes, or does any of it touch on who you are as a person?
- Think about the past ten years – do you have any relationships that have gone terribly wrong? Any rifts that need to be repaired or addressed?
- When you have problems at work or with people, do you take accountability to address how you’ve co-created the problem, or do you blame others 100% for what’s gone wrong?
- Think about your relationship with money – have you placed a higher value on money than on people? Are there any money leaks in your life that lead you to treat people less respectfully and lovingly than you wish to?
- Take an inventory of the friends and supporters you have – the true friends who would do anything for you. Do you find you’re alone in life or are you surrounded by real friends who care about your well-being?
- Do you have a different moral and behavioral code with family than with others in your life? If so, how is it different, and why?
- Finally, take some time to think long and hard about what you want to leave behind and be remembered for. Are you doing the right things to achieve your desired vision?
So the lesson in this for me is to consider whether I want to be remembered for my efficiency or for my empathy? For the fact that I made money or for the fact that I made memories? For being careFREE or careFULL? Likewise you may not like the person that life’s stress has made you but it’s not too late to recognise that and consciously change it. Start small- start with those closest to you and create a life which really matters- to those that really matter!
I believe that THE most important question you can ask yourself in life, to ensure that at the end, you won’t have regrets, is “How will I be remembered?” Knowing the answer to this question helps you live every day in a way that will result in what you truly want, rather than in emptiness, pain, and regret.