We lost a beloved icon last week when Betty White passed just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday. Memes and tributes followed, each highlighting the incredible person she was and celebrating her life, accomplishments, and legacy. She made us laugh and cry and left us with an incredible library of sound bites, video, and work that will continue to do so for years. She was one of the rare members of the entertainment community, that had very little – if any – bad press. One meme I read said, “It says so much about your life and legacy if people think you died too soon at 99.” Imagine what an incredible legacy that is: to live for 99 years and leave the world wanting more!
Facing mortality is one of the hardest (if not the hardest) thing we must do. We all know the life we have is finite, yet we find it hard to acknowledge that fact. As a result, many of us don’t live life to the fullest, although, I think some of this may be changing for the better. As much as I hate the “great resignation,” we are seeing more people make (hopefully) positive changes to follow their passions. Maybe as employers and managers we should help them with their legacy. Whether it’s your desire to make the world a better place (Betty did that with her work with animals), spending time with family (Betty left California for New York once she got married), traveling the world, or learning and experiencing new things (Betty had many firsts, including the oldest SNL host), these changes leave an imprint on those left behind. They leave a legacy.
Building a positive, meaningful legacy is not easy. It takes time, planning, and is as much about what you do as it is about who you are. Notice, I did not say it is about the physical things you leave behind — it’s so much more than that. A legacy can be whatever you want it to be. What do you want to be remembered for? Do you want to be remembered for your philanthropy, for your love of family, the impact you made on someone’s life, the lessons you may have unknowingly taught others through your actions? Maybe it’s a combination of these things. The list is endless and most importantly, it’s yours to own. As we start this new year, it’s a good time to reflect on what you want your legacy to be and take the steps to get there.
It may seem daunting but remember my superpower is simplicity. Set a goal, outline the tasks to achieve those goals, and execute (that may be the hard part). If the goal changes, readjust your course but always move forward.
“Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.” — Peter Strople
How will you change your legacy this weekend?