“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.” Billy Graham
From ancient times, tribal elders would ask of any important decision, “What will be the effects of acting on this decision for the next seven generations? Will this benefit our children’s children and beyond?” Who we are and how we manifest our core values with intention can have a long-lasting and positive effect on our communities. Our carelessness and unconsciousness can lead to polluting the earth. Our caring and awareness can lead to a lasting stewardship.
What will you do with your values, your special gifts and abilities, and your time and energy before you pass on from this earth? You are right now creating your legacy, determining with whom and how your values, your work, love and vision survive beyond the scope of your life, and reverberate in the hearts and lives of others.
Legacy need not be money or property given as a final act or bequest. It may be mentorship of those younger than you, a scrapbook, a company culture, camping or hunting trips with the family, or a book written because it was in you. Legacy is the culmination of one’s life purpose and mission. It is your service in the world guided by your vision and values.
When we focus our attention on creating our legacy, we bring to bear all our gifts: our talents and abilities, intention, purpose, vision, relationships, values, our material wealth and our spiritual endowment – all toward something that enriches and empowers, connects and inspires others for generations to come. And through that work of legacy we live on past our own death, in the hearts and memories and stories of those we love and bless, those who would be inspired and carry our legacy values and vision and beliefs to yet another generation.
If we humans did not create legacy, there would be no Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or Moses. There would be no Gandhi or Mandela or George Washington. Imaging a world without Mozart or Picasso, universities or sports heroes. Through legacy the world is built and bettered for generations to come. It is not just the great and famous who leave a lasting and worthwhile legacy. There are millions of stories that survive those who lived them. We may not know their names as household words; the gifts that these women and men have left us may not bear their names, but certainly their signatures: what is authentic and unique about them that continues to live on.
What is legacy composed of? Certainly there is a vision of a better world. Without these we could not imagine and dream of its creation. It is a vision of what is achievable in one’s lifespan.