Most of us associate legacy with the end of life rather than the present, but legacy is not bound by age or time and it represents more than physical things, it’s also about heritage and influence. It’s your contribution to the lives you touch every day either intentionally or by example.
You are building your legacy right now with each new experience and relationship. The way in which you live your life, each time you share your knowledge or reach out to help or inspire someone (or don’t) you are contributing to your legacy.
With this in mind, what if the most important gift we can give in this life is not material items at all, but a piece of ourselves?
Legacy is not what’s left tomorrow when you’re gone. It’s what you give, create impact and contribute today while you are here that then happens to live on. ~Rasheed Oguniaru
Begin By Defining the Legacy of Others
To begin to understand the value and nature of what your own legacy might be, spend some time considering all the ways in which you have been influenced by others. What life lessons have you learned directly or indirectly that have become a part of who you are?
The following three examples represent the legacy of people who have touched my life.
Always Reach Beyond What’s Comfortable
I’ve known many people in my life who have chosen the safety of living small lives over the risk of testing themselves or facing their fears. Michael C. literally changed the course of my life by challenging me to dream beyond what is practical, to reach beyond what is comfortable, to ignore naysayers, and most of all to not let fear get a foothold by immediately facing up to each task or experience that causes me to feel discomfort.
One Person CAN Make a Difference
There are so many problems in the world it’s easy to assume one person can’t possibly make a difference. Nate R. taught me to bring solutions to the table rather than problems, and that not only can one person make a difference, but we are obligated to do so as our contribution to this life. His legacy of influence caused me to be an activist rather than an observer, to lead by example, and to never let the fact I don’t know how to do something stop me from trying.
Turn your wounds into wisdom. ~Oprah
The Imperative of Forgiveness
My Mom and dad well and truly sucked at the parenting thing, but I eventually came to understand that they had a lot of not-so-pleasant things going on in their own lives that they tried the only way they knew how to shield us from. I learned from them tolerance and to not judge others on face value because we can never really know the full extent of another person’s burdens. In the end, we are all are just trying to live our lives the best – and sometimes the only way – we know how. As Maya Angelou once said so well, “Do the best you can until you know better, when you know better do better.”
Defining My Own Legacy to Life
These life lessons have become a part of who I am and what I share with the world. Of course, I’ve learned a few lessons of my own along the way, some that have tested me in ways I never could have imagined, but I came out the other side stronger than ever before, and I will again the next time there’s an unexpected detour or obstacle.
And this brings me to what I want my legacy to be …
To challenge you to accept responsibility for the power and authority you have to create your own life experience. To show you all the ways in which to empower yourself and stand up to fear knowing that, no matter what obstacles you may face in life, you will be okay.
Knowing the legacy I want to leave behind helps me to stay focused on what I’m doing in the present so that my goals are in line with that intention. It offers a concrete sense of purpose in choosing what I am giving my energy to.
Each person leaves a legacy – a single, small piece of herself, which makes richer each individual life and the collective life of humanity as a whole. ~Author Unknown
We can never truly know all the ways in which we will directly or indirectly influence the lives of other people on this journey, but think of your legacy as the invisible cord that connects you to those whose lives you touch each day, and to the lives that they touch, and so on, potentially for generations to come. This notion of planning your legacy is humbling, and yet tremendously empowering.
Is there someone who has influenced your life in a way that has become a part of who you are? What will your legacy be?
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.