“Please think about your legacy, because you are writing it every day” – Gary Vaynerchuk
When we’re caught up in the day-to-day challenges of our business and work, it can be tough to take a moment, zoom out, and think about the outcome of our life – our legacy.
When was the last time you stopped to think about the legacy you want to leave? After all, we don’t have the option of not leaving one. What we can do, however, is decide to be proactive about what it will look like.
One of the most powerful illustrations of this concept I’ve ever come across is from Stephen Covey. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he shares an exercise, envisioning your own funeral. Who would be there? What would you want them to say about you?
I’d like to share with you three ideas on how to leave behind a beneficial and inspirational legacy to serve others long after you’re gone.
Write a Book – For the Right Reasons
From the experience of writing my own books, and helping a lot of people write their own, I can truly say that books are one of the best ways to leave a legacy.
Take a moment and think about a book that’s made a real difference in your life. Stop and think about how many other hearts and minds have been helped by the same words.
Books are one of the best investments a person can make. Warren Buffet himself stated that knowledge from books acts like compound interest, building up over time.
So how can you go about crafting a book that will leave a proud legacy for you long after you’ve gone?
- Write to serve. Have you ever read a book and felt like it was aiming to brag more than it was aiming to help? Avoid this at all costs! Realize the purpose of your book is to serve others, not to boost your ego.
- Don’t cut corners. Books really do outlast their authors. Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is still benefiting lives almost two thousand years after it was written! Give your book every chance of being treasured far into the future by focusing on its quality. Get help if there’s any part of book creation you’re not sure about.
- Spread the word. Make sure to get the word out about your book. After all, if you want it to outlast you, ensure you seed its success while you’re still here. Building an author platform in your lifetime will give a solid foundation for your legacy to rest on.
I truly believe that everyone has a book inside them, and one which has the potential to serve humanity far into the future. Wouldn’t that be a worthwhile legacy to leave behind? If you agree, why not start learning about book creation?
Leave Behind the Gift of Education
You know that saying about when you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but when you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime?
It’s absolutely true. One of the most valuable things you can do is teach others. The best thing about this is you’re not only helping someone directly but also creating the potential for a domino effect. The person you help can, in turn, help others, ensuring your knowledge and skill are passed on even further.
So what are some ways to leave the best possible educational legacy?
- Mentor others. We can all share our knowledge and experience each and every day. Helping others along the same path you’ve walked is a great way to seed a truly beneficial legacy. Whether through support and advice to those around you, or more formal mentorship, you can ensure the lessons you’ve learned live on far into the future.
- Create a course. When you take the time to create an online course, you formalize a way for people to learn from you far into the future. It’s never been easier to reach the whole world thanks to the incredible advances in technology we now enjoy.
- Make it timeless. If you want the education you leave behind to truly be your legacy, think about what will serve people far into the future. Evergreen topics and eternal principles are more likely to survive the test of time than anything else.
Never underestimate the power of leaving an educational legacy behind. Doing so can help countless others far into the future.
Make a Philanthropic Contribution
Our ideas and our knowledge are indeed valuable gifts to leave behind, but they’re far from the only legacy we can leave.
When you think about philanthropy, what comes to mind? Perhaps you picture prominent and famous examples of philanthropy, such as the massive amounts given away by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. This might make philanthropy seem out of reach or unrealistic.
But you don’t have to be a billionaire to make a difference. Smaller acts, like planting trees and digging wells in places that need them, benefit people’s lives immensely.
If you’re interested in leaving the legacy of philanthropy, how can you do precisely that, regardless of how little or how much you have?
- Consider impact. It might be helpful to keep the Pareto principle in mind when considering philanthropy. How can you make the biggest impact with what you have? Look for underserved areas of need, or other examples of how you can do more with less.
- Look forward. The needs of tomorrow may look very different from those of today. Think about the challenges future generations are likely to face. How can you serve them? This helps to ensure a truly beneficial philanthropic legacy is left behind.
- Create or contribute? While it can be tempting to want to start something in your name, stop and consider whether this is the best way forward. How can you help the most – creating a philanthropic project of your own, or contributing to one that already exists?
No matter the resources you have, or the quantity they exist in, you can find a way to leave a valuable philanthropic legacy behind.
Are You Ready to Plan Your Legacy?
If the thought of being proactive about your legacy has resonated with you, don’t let the moment pass.
Think about the three types of legacy discussed in this article. Which appeals to you the most? What’s the first thing you could do to start building a legacy in this area? Alternatively, start with the end in mind, and work backwards to figure out where to begin.
While none of us will be around forever, we can leave a beneficial legacy for others which long outlasts us.
What could be more worthwhile than that?