leaving a legacy

leaving a legacyA friend of mine once said to me:

I just want to make sure that I leave a legacy

I hated to be the one to tell him but,

Andy, you already have.

Legacy [leguh-see]
Anything handed down from the past as from an ancestor or predecessor

When people think of a “legacy”, they think of brilliant, powerful or rich people who developed a new vaccine, enacted a society changing law or built schools for the under-privileged.

Yes, those are wonderful legacies to leave behind and we will always remember Dr. Jonas Salk (polio vaccine), Abraham Lincoln (emancipation proclamation) and Bill & Melinda Gates (the good works they are doing with their money are too numerous to list).

However, we will also remember those who left legacies that are not so wonderful. Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussain and Jeffery Dahmer immediately come to mind. A legacy is “anything” handed down from the past. Nowhere does it say it has to be a good thing.

What I’m not sure people understand is that everyone leaves a legacy. A legacy built from how you affected someone else’s life while you were here. Even a small child whose life is too short to be fair leaves a legacy. Perhaps it’s a legacy of strength or hope or joy.

We all have that one teacher that we will always remember – the one who believed in you – or that one coach that pushed you to succeed. They likely weren’t even aware that their actions were leaving a legacy because of the way they affected your life.

What I’m saying is that you’re leaving a legacy even if you don’t intend to, and even if it’s only for one person. Now think about how you live your life and how you treat people – are you leaving a positive legacy? Or a negative one?

Of course, the longer you’re here in this world, the more opportunities you have to leave a deliberate legacy. To choose how you want people to remember you. I’m not sure everyone thinks about this but take a minute and do it. How do you want to be remembered?

For me, nobody is going to remember me for any medical breakthroughs but I’ve held the hand of friends, family and children when they’re in pain.

I don’t hold the type of job that is going to make any social impact but I hope, at least, to be remembered as a pleasant, helpful, hard worker. I’ve never strived to be in charge; I am always happy to be the one behind the boss, making him or her look good. I’m pretty sure there are a few bosses I’ve had that will remember me as the one that saved their ass on more than one occasion.

And I do give to the Salvation Army Kettle Drive every Christmas, buy poppies for Remembrance Day and stop to donate to the Firefighters Boot Campaign.

But mostly, I want to be remembered for who I was.
For being the strength when someone needed it or for making people smile and laugh. I would be happy to have said about me that . . .

> she was always happy, a ray of sunshine every day
> she never missed a birthday
> she never gave up
> she was always there when I needed her
> she always found the positive in every situation
> she was always the first one to step up

I am hoping too that who I am is rubbing off on my kids. It gives me great pleasure when I hear things like:

he is hilarious, he must get his sense of humour from you


she is so thoughtful, just like her mother

I like to think that, in this way, my legacy will live on.

I think what my friend Andy meant was that he wants to be remembered for something he accomplished. Something positive that he contributed. He is a computer geek and is always working on a new way to use technology. He is very smart so I’m sure he will find that niche and develop something amazing.

But even if he doesn’t, he has raised three great kids, mentored many young people through coaching, educated new job hires through his positive management and been a great friend.

And as far as legacies go, I think that’s a pretty great one.

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