What is Your Legacy?
This summer for me has held a lot of time in what I’d classify as “soul searching.” I don’t know if it’s the slower, lazy days of summer that help invites it or the world events taking place, or perhaps a combination of things, yet I find myself really looking at my life purpose, my work, ultimately my legacy. Is this just me or is this up for you too?
I had the grand pleasure of working for and learning from Franklin Covey Coaching for a number of years in my corporate days. I was daily involved with selling and teaching from the classic work of Stephen Covey, famously known, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I believe for many of us this book, this work had a profound effect upon our lives, our thinking, our relationships, and our legacy. As you likely know, Stephen Covey passed away this July. His passing prompted me to leaf through my own 7 Habits well worn copy and found myself smiling at the many truths I first learned from him. He has left a profound effect upon my life and upon the planet.
At the time of his passing, my mind, heart, and soul had already begun the dance of really doing a life introspection – am I happy? Am I progressing? Is my work meaningful? Am I contributing to the planet in a positive way? All of these thoughts combined with a few tear jearker episodes of ABC’s “Secret Millionaire”, I was primed and ready, already seeking after these thoughts of leaving a legacy. One of the things that Covey so eloquently teaches is to be living our legacy NOW. Not when we die and leave behind money or possessions. But to have our lives be a living legacy of goodness, of service in this present moment.
So consider this – what is your legacy? What do you want it to be? What do I want it to be for me? How do I/we want to contribute to the planet?
These are deep questions and we may not know the answers right now. Yet, I do believe they are so very valuable to ponder and consider for ourselves. We often hear that life is short. We are reminded of that as we read or hear of someone’s passing. It’s that little reminder each time that there will be a day for all of us to leave this life and begin a new adventure known as death. When we are in the daily grind, just keeping up with all the life stuff – laundry, school work, television, our careers – it’s easy to forget the preciousness of life. But indeed it is precious – YOU are precious – and there will never be another YOU on this planet ever.
So what will you choose to contribute while you’re here? What makes your heart sing? What brings you joy? Those are great starting points to being on purpose and therefore, contributing to a living legacy.
Here are two thoughts that I especially love and believe in my heart to be true guiding principles in discovering your life purpose and ultimately your legacy:
“Your life purpose will be found in service.” – Wayne Dyer
“When what brings you joy meets the need of humanity is where you will find your calling.” – Parker Palmer
I do believe that our purpose and our legacy will bring us joy – this is tip #1.
I do believe that our purpose and ultimately our joy will be rooted in service of others – this is tip #2.
Think about it.
Your list of what you’re drawn to, truly passionate about is bigger than making the bills, keeping up with the laundry, or losing those last stubborn 10 pounds. I would guess that as a fellow spiritual traveler on this path in a skin suit, I know that under the distractions and stressors of life, your heart and your soul know this to be true.
I believe Tagore was so divinely inspired when he penned,
“I dreamt and I saw that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted, and behold, service was joy.”
I personally love this quote also found in the 7 Habits,
“Service is the rent we pay for living upon the earth.” – N. Eldon Tanner
I too have seen that service is joy in my own life. I know that when I’m stressed out or in challenging times that when I focus on serving someone else, it always brings me higher too. I know that when I show up in sales conversation focused on serving the prospect or client, that I have joy in that process – when I don’t and it’s all about the sale, it’s stressful and lacking joy.
Service is a way of living our legacy in all that we do. And I also know that it shows up in a variety of shapes and forms. It may be that your service is working at a soup kitchen once a week. It may be a humanitarian trip to Africa or abroad. It’s also in many simple things like praying or sending kind thoughts to someone we know or a complete stranger. It may be buying someone’s coffee in the car line behind you. It could be opening a door for someone with full hands. It may be choosing to offer a compliment. It could also be choosing to give someone else the benefit of the doubt within our own home or office team when they show up grumpy, late, or seemed to be “thoughtless” of us. When I speak to service, there isn’t one particular way of what that means. For some of you, you are called to serve in medicine. For others, you are meant to teach children. And for others, you have the gift of making others laugh, or have hope, or confidence or whatever it may be. It’s the same principle manifested in different ways. All are of great value.
My point in writing this post to you today is because first of all, it’s been on my brain for three weeks straight and it hasn’t gone away until now when I’ve sat down to write it. Funny how that intuition just keeps knocking until you answer the call! And secondly, I think that for myself I’ve learned it’s valuable to our lives and our happiness to do the life inventory from time to time and ask of ourselves really good questions. These questions create discovery, insight, and importantly to our highest self, our soul, connecting us to our purpose – the juicy of the juicy that gives life meaning, value, courage, strength, and HOPE.
You have a purpose.
You have great value.
You are the only you on this planet equipped with thoughts, and skills, and experiences that are solely yours.
You have gifts to contribute. Please do so.
So what brings you joy?
What lights up your heart and soul?
In what ways does service speak to you?
How do you want to contribute in your life?
Let us be about the call to be a living legacy in the here and now.
Much love & gratitude,