Last time we talked about our inheritance. This week, let’s talk out our legacies. What is a legacy? There are a few definitions: a legacy could be a bequest that you leave in your will, it could refer to something that was left for us, or it could be what’s left over (as in, a “legacy system”). I don’t want to talk about any of those. I want to talk specifically about whatever we intentionally leave that will impact other people. Is that broad enough? I hope so. Let’s break it down a bit.
First, the intentional bit – how do you want to impact other people, and why? Do you want to be thought provoking? Do you want to make things easier? Do you want to plant challenges? Motivation? Pave the way? Offer guidance? Teach? Those are just a few examples but there are many, many options. What do you choose – and you don’t have to pick just one! You can have more than one why!
Next, the what. What do you want to leave behind you. By the way, I don’t think you have to be gone! I’m NOT talking about what happens after we die; more like what do we leave in our wake. I do think it’s worth thinking about what for a couple of reasons. First, it helps us identify our priorities, which helps us decide what to do when there’s too much to do! It gives us meaning and purpose and guidance when we need it: when we’re looking for our north star, our authenticity and integrity.
If you’re not sure about what you think about your legacy, one of the best exercises I know is a short guided meditation.
Note: If you’re going to do the guided meditation, DON’T finish reading this article and come back to do it. Just read the instructions, do the meditation, then come back and read the end, okay? Trust me, it will be more effective.
Okay. You’re going to close your eyes and imagine that you are in a place where you can overhear a few people talking about you. They are all saying that you have had a big impact on their lives in some way. They don’t know that you can hear them, so they are sharing their stories with each other openly. Each person has something profound to say about you and how you influenced them, the difference that you made. Just listen and take it in. When they’ve finished talking, open your eyes.
Go ahead and do this exercise now. When you finish, come back and then scroll on down.
That’s your legacy. You can stop worrying about what to focus on, what’s your purpose, because you really only need to answer one question. Does it support your legacy? Awesome.
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!
Love, and light in the shadows,
ps – you can do this same exercise to understand your leadership legacy!