Don’t you know you have a choice?
Lyric from “People”
By Susan Tedeschi
Fascinated by how people consider Legacy, I conducted over 50 interviews with people regarding their ideas, thoughts, and feelings about the word and concept of Legacy, whether they believe it shows up for them or not.
These curiosities percolated in my mind as I considered my own Legacies and took a deep dive into conversations exploring the value of Legacy Mindsets. I encourage you to join me.
Making good choices in the present is not so easily done. In my experience, doing so requires perspectives drawn from conscious consideration and reflection. Many people do not focus their energies these ways. Far fewer do so without help from a Coach or mentor.
- What are Legacies?
- Why do Legacies matter?
- When do Legacies get created?
What are Legacies? The two most consistent ways the people I interviewed defined Legacy are different from the dictionary definitions of Legacy. Conventional definitions of Legacy focus on gifting money or personal property, usually real estate, to others. My interviewees defined Legacy more broadly, as the impact each of us has on others and the world and what we leave behind. Some interviewees associated the concept of Legacies with self-aggrandizement, such as getting one’s name on a building, which turned them off. Men tended to place more emphasis on the financial aspects of Legacy than women. However, as we dove deeper into the interviews, I found the whole of respondents focused much more on the lasting impact of their relationships with others, their families, friends, colleagues, and sometimes their communities and the broader society. These conversations illuminated how we create a variety of Legacies through different aspects of our lives.
Why do Legacies matter?
How we affect others and our environment embodies the quality of the lives we live. Legacies are determined both by our intentions and the differences we make. Shaped by the degree, we add to or diminish others with whom we interact as we move through our days.
Each of us creates an impact, and consequently, each of us leaves something behind, every day, everywhere we go. Therefore, Legacies are relevant to everyone.
The way we impact people in our day influences their attitude, energy, and mood, which affects how they move others with whom they interact, and so on out. Consequently, our actions have a rippling effect.
Whether you buy into the concept of the Butterfly Effect or not, that small, seemingly insignificant action in one part of the world can profoundly impact other parts of the world; exemplified by the notion that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings over a flower in Brazil can set off a hurricane in Texas.
“How we affect others, and our environment embodies the quality of the life we live”
You can recognize when you are impacted by others, belittled by your boss, flipped off by a person in traffic, or receiving a heartfelt compliment from a friend or colleague and how these interactions affect your feelings, attitudes, decisions, and actions. And how, in turn, they impact our interactions with others. In this way, our interactions, which make up our Legacies, have a compounding effect. Again, the question is the degree to which they contribute to or take away from others or the environment.
When do Legacies get created?
Legacies are created every day, continuously, moment-by-moment, on an ongoing basis. I discovered some people do not believe this. Many had never considered the idea before. They believed Legacies only exist in the cumulative, at particular points in time, such as when they launch their children, retire, or die.
It is as if they believe Legacies do not exist until they decide to pay attention to them. Exemplified by the statement, “I am not ready to “tend” to my Legacy.” Presumably, that time will later in life.
This is magical thinking. There are real dangers of holding this belief system. By believing Legacies are in the future and we have to wait until we are older to have them, we miss the opportunities right there before us in the present moment. If we wait until we are older to pay attention to them, the vast majority of our lives and, therefore, our “Legacy opportunities” have already passed.
By natural law, our Legacies are comprised of the sum total of our everyday interactions, decisions, and behaviors. Consequently, our everyday actions combine to form our aggregate Legacies.
When we fail to recognize we are continuously creating Legacies, every day, right here, right now, we risk not taking full responsibility for the effect we have on all those with whom we interact throughout our lives.
Just like we cannot not communicate, we cannot help but leave Legacies.
That is, we are perpetually creating Legacies of impact and leaving them behind.
When we acknowledge this reality and keep it at the forefront of our minds, we live more consciously. We become inclined to treat others and our environment better. We acknowledge and take full responsibility for our lives and our impact.
Since we are constantly creating Legacies, it makes sense to focus on leaving those we desire.
- Legacies are defined by the impact you have and what you leave behind right here, right now, with every interaction and relationship.
- You do not have to wait to intentionally work on your Legacies; you can start to be more conscious of the legacies you are creating today.
- Getting help from a Coach or mentor will make you much more likely to leave the Legacies to which you aspire.
- Legacies represent the continual and cumulative impact of your life, therefore, are compelling and relevant to everyone.
- Considering Legacies early in life offers you the best opportunity to align your values, purpose, and intentions with your decision-making and actions, which create your Legacies that impact people and your relationships today.
- When you take the time to consider your Legacies, you are more likely to live the life you want and, thereby, leave the Legacies you intend.
“Just like we cannot communicate, we cannot help but leave legacies”What is the quality of your everyday Legacies? Are they accumulating into the lasting Legacies you value most? The purpose of 4C’s work is to help people live lives, lead teams, and run organizations in generous ways with fewer regrets. You can never go back and make a brand-new start, yet you can always start today to make a brand-new end.