When it comes to losing great icons, there is no doubt that 2016 has been one almighty shitter of a year so far. Before we’ve even reached the halfway mark, we have lost David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Victoria Wood and the purple, mystical legend that was Prince to name just a few. With each passing has come reflection, as we’ve walked down memory lane to bask in the glory of what they left behind. We’ve danced to music, re-read books, and spent endless hours in states of nostalgia in front of flickering screens to relive their magic.
Although we’ve mourned, it’s a beautiful thing to know that what these amazing people have achieved will live on to inspire generations to come. What’s more interesting is how we’ve reflected upon our own lives in the process. Your average Joe won’t sell out stadiums, break box office records or write bestselling novels, but does that mean they won’t have mattered? Of course not. Everyone has an important legacy to leave behind, even if they are not fully aware of it.

Children are the future

Father and Child Legacy
Literally. Those chubby faced little cherubs grow up to be the adults that run the world and get shit done, so it’s no surprise that being a parent comes up in conversations about legacy. It’s a chance to nurture from the ground up, and dream of the many possibilities that await. It’s also seen as a way to put things right for those who didn’t have the best childhoods themselves; a means of ‘correction’ for what they wished they could have fixed in their own early lives had they the ability to do so. Whatever the reasons, having a living, breathing copy of yourself to make a mark on the world is a powerful thing, because who knows what they will grow up to achieve? 

Let your creativity flow freely

Let’s be honest. If everyone that called themselves a writer got stinking rich, the world would be a very different place now. The same goes for anyone that picks up a musical instrument, a paint brush, or any other tool to be used in a creative fashion. But just because you won’t be the next J K Rowling, doesn’t meant you should stop writing. Just because you will never be compared to Picasso, doesn’t mean you should chuck your art stuff in a skip. Impact is very hard to measure, and is important at all levels. So whether 2,500 people read your blog post/watch your short film/listen to your podcast or just two people do, there is the potential to have an impact on someone’s life. Throwing a boulder in a lake will create a splash, with ripples that go on for miles. But you know what? Even a pebble can cause a little ruckus on a water’s surface, so remember that when you think what you’re doing doesn’t matter.  

Keeping the end in mind…

On a recent podcast with Lewis Howes, author Michael Hyatt talked about his best-selling book ‘Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want’. In this book he asks the question ‘how do you want to be remembered?’. The premise of this question is to have the end in mind, and think about what you would like your loved ones to say about you at your funeral. Then consider what they would say if that funeral were today. Seems a bit grim right? The point is, if you are not confident that your eulogy today would be as glowing as your future one, then there is work to be done. Be honest with yourself and ask why that might be the case. Could you be more caring? More selfless? Could you be a better partner, sibling or friend? Having a bit of a frank word with yourself about these matters might not be easy, but it is necessary all the same, as the impression we leave with others is not a legacy to be underestimated.

If we take into account what legacy we want to leave, could it lead to us living more purposeful lives? Perhaps, but there is no real way to  know for sure. All we can do is make the most of the time we have, in the hope that the world is that little bit better off for having had us be a part of it.

What kind of legacy are you hoping to leave behind?

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