Leave A Legacy – Who Will Benefit?

Who will benefit from your legacy?

This question is probably of more concern than the ‘what will be my legacy?’ question, since it smacks less of self-interest and the pride of being remembered and actually looks at who might gain from your legacy.

Traditionally we have looked at our legacy being things we pass down to our relatives to help and prosper them as they make their way in the world. Who else could benefit from how you creatively choose to live your life? And will the impact be huge for a few or a gentle touch for many people?

When it comes to the people affected though, how much does scope matter? I was talking to a friend recently who has started to think about the legacy he will leave, particularly in terms of the children that he teaches. As we kept talking though we realised that if all he accomplished in the course of his life was to bring up his own children in a stable, secure and loving home then that in itself would be a great thing. Maybe we will only be remembered by one person for a single throwaway comment we have made but if that touch changes the course of their life or starts to alter their thinking then who knows where the ripples might go.

I suspect that when we think about how far-reaching our legacy goes then it will be hard to keep pride out of the equation. However, if we think about the quality of our impact on others and get less hung up about quantity then we will leave a longer lasting legacy. Mother Teresa probably didn’t set out to create an order of 4500 nuns when she started the Missionaries of Charity – she simply wanted to bring Jesus’ love to individuals but look where her wholehearted commitment to that goal took her.

Who will you make a difference for? Two other simple examples spring to mind. I was sitting in a pub with a great friend recently. Outside a dog was running out of control around the middle of the road. I disinterestedly saw an animal, she saw a situation where she could make a difference and went out to stop it getting run over. In the end she wasn’t able to collar it – it was remarkably vicious in its response to help – but yet her actions challenged my thinking. What consequences, planned or unexpected, will our positive attitudes, actions and intentions have on those around us? Secondly, I was working at a children’s activity camp a few weeks ago where all the children volunteered for an afternoon to Make a Difference. For some it was clearing up a beach but for others it was befriending elderly people around a game of indoor curling. You could see the joy and pleasure writ large on the faces of the participants, from simple words and actions.

Who will benefit from your actions and what impact might that have long into the future? How will those you impact pass on the blessing to others in their lives?

What are the foundations and how is the building progressing?

So if you want to leave a legacy behind you, you need to decide what that will be. Yes, you may have an impact accidentally but the experts are right when they say that we can achieve so much more when we are deliberate about it.

What is important to you, who do you want to impact, how do you want to make life better? If you can’t answer these then now is the time to go away and address them. Maybe start by thinking about your values and what is important to you in life. My article on values and the worksheets you can download off the website will help you delve deeper.

Once you know though, what are you going to do about it? Are you the right person to leave this legacy or do you need to change who you are or how you approach life in order to be the difference that you desire?

Have you got all the resources you need in terms of capabilities, skills, position, authority, time or money in order to bring this legacy to fruition? If not, what else do you need to put in place a foundation on which to start the building process?

If you have all the basic blocks though, how is the building coming on? What do you need to put in place to ensure that work carries on? How do you need to speak to, what little action do you need to complete? Maybe, if it is not a one-off ‘building’ or it will not be complete in your lifetime, you also need to think in terms of who can you inspire to carry on the work once you are gone.

Whatever impact you want to make on the world and on individuals, get started now. Gather what you need and take action. Leave a legacy that makes the world better, even just for one person – they will thank you for it.