I find myself thinking about legacy more and more these days.
Perhaps it’s a part of getting older. It’s a natural thing; we think about what we’re going to leave behind as the years creep up on us.
Changing career directions, after over 20 years of following one path, may have something to do with it too. I’ve often wondered if this focus on legacy is the cause or the effect of letting go of my old definitions of success.
I saw Oprah deliver a memorial tribute for Maya Angelou. She shared a conversation she had with Dr. Angelou about this topic.
I remember when I opened my school in South Africa and I said to Maya Angelou, ‘Gee this will be my legacy.’ And Maya in her Maya way said, ‘You have no idea what your legacy will be. Your legacy is what you do every day. It is every life you’ve touched, every person whose life was either moved or not. It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped, that’s your legacy. —Oprah Winfrey
Our legacy is what we do every day… that resonated with me.
Legacy in this context feels natural and organic. Not some contrived or overly-produced intention for the purpose of leaving something behind. Instead, it pushes me to align my work with my values and principles, and with the dent that I’m trying to make.
And then I stumbled upon this post from Jonathan Fields, wherein he echoed the same sentiment. He talked about legacy in the context of present-day actions.
What if instead of obsessing over the need to define what I’ll leave behind, I focused on creating the best possible present-day dots and trusted they’d someday weave together to form a worthy story over time?
Thinking about legacy, not in the context of someday, rather in terms of the conscious choices we make today.
I like that.