When most people think of a legacy, images of wealth, power and fame come to mind. Some of the most intriguing fairy tales of all time have the prince falling in love with the beautiful girl. They go to the castle where the story ends with them living happily ever after. I grew up in a resort community where wealthy people owned summer homes. As I saw those homes, I imagined the lives of people who could spend their summers in those beautiful homes. Over the years, I had the opportunity to get to know some of the young people from some of those families. I was pleasantly surprised at how much alike we were even though our lives and legacies were different in so many ways.
I have had the privilege of traveling in forty-nine of the fifty states in the USA. I have actually spent some time in a number of states. It has been fascinating to explore the legacies of people from different geographic backgrounds. Obviously, the legacy we have each received is made up of many different pieces. Each is unique, and each is ongoing.
Who we are at any given moment in our lives is influenced by an almost unlimited set of factors. Obviously, at birth we arrive with a genetic legacy, but our entry into the world also presents us with a whole set of environmental, social and physical conditions. There is a lot of evidence to support the theory that what happens in the very early portion of our life has a lasting impact on who we are throughout life. That, too, is a part of the legacy we receive.
An immeasurable number of people and circumstances influence us and become part of our legacy as we go through life. Think back to your earliest childhood memories. Who are the people and what are the events that seem most vivid to you. Hopefully, most of these are positive. This would mean you received a legacy upon which to build a happy, productive life. If most or all of these events and people were not positive, then your legacy might look much different.
Major events, like illness or loss, moving to a new location and so many other factors go into forming the legacy we each receive. Is there someone you can point to as the one who influenced your life in a major way? Have you looked at someone as a role model for the way you would like to live your life? Did you have an experience in life that shaped or helped confirm the direction in your life? All these things are a part of your legacy.
As we move forward, it is important to realize these things are still going on in our lives. Are there still people or events who help shape the direction of your life? Are there still people you view as role models for what you desire your life to be? We never stop being influenced by the people and events around us.
Part of our moving forward is to realize we also have a legacy to pass on to other people. Who are the people who see you as someone important in their lives? In addition to the obvious answer of people we are in a close relationship with, who are others who may see us in a still more casual way and still be influenced by us?
Thinking of the legacy we are leaving others might be an opportunity to objectively look at our lives and ask if we are the person we would want to be seen as a role model to others. Seeing ourselves as others see us can be helpful in evaluating where we are at the moment in the journey of living. As we move forward, let us remember that the legacy we are leaving for others is the special, unique contribution we make in the lives of others. Join with me in creating the best legacy we can and enjoying the experience.
–David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.
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