What will be said of you when you’re gone? No one knows how long he or she will live, but everyone has some time to leave behind something that makes the world a better place. What will you say about yourself? Will it be consistent with your values and what you stand for? What would others say about you if they knew the truth? It might be difficult to picture your legacy in advance, but these six ways can help ensure it reflects the person you want to be remembered as.
Create works of passion
You share your values with your family every day, even if you don’t think about it. For example, if you love creative activities like painting or playing music, chances are your kids will too. If you and your spouse are outdoor lovers, take them to a park often so they can enjoy nature and get a sense of who you are. When you pass on hobbies that share your passions and values, you can be sure that those characteristics will live on through family members in ways beyond words.
Share anecdotes of times when you have lived your values. Stories can inspire others, illustrate broader points and help your family relate to you and your values. When you’re done, they’ll know what’s important to you, what makes your heart beat faster, and how they can apply it in their own lives. So, share a story that illustrates one of your core values and see if it resonates with others. Then tell a few more. And then some more. If you find yourself coming up short on stories, ask your friends and loved ones for advice on ones they remember hearing you talk about years ago or could easily imagine hearing now. Using Storii's templates of over 1000 questions can also bring to light some of your most important values to share with your children and grandchildren.
Teaching is a fulfilling way to pass on your values, but you don’t need to be an educator or professor to share them. For example, if you were raised in a loving household and taught that it was important to give back, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or donate clothes and supplies to charities. If you were raised in a culture that emphasizes hard work, pay someone who isn’t as fortunate as you to do yard work or deliver your newspaper.
If self-reliance is something you value, invite a friend to dinner and help cook—or get together with friends for dinner but serve everyone else; when everyone chips in to cook or clean up afterward, everyone feels invested in their friendship. The sky is the limit here: think about how all of these examples relate directly to what your parents taught you growing up! What values did they instill? How can those values guide how we live our lives today?
Leadership is not only about inspiring others. It’s also about being an inspiration yourself. Pass your values down to others by mentoring them, whether they’re part of your work or personal life. By sharing what you know and whom you admire, you can inspire a new generation of leaders who will continue your legacy. The bonds between mentors and their protégés are often lifelong—which means these relationships keep growing even after both parties have passed away. They leave behind legacies that live on in all those they inspired. Even after we are gone, our spirit continues to touch those we’ve touched while we were here on earth—and all because one mentor took it upon themselves to care for another human being.
Leave behind an heirloom
Our society is a culture of disposables. We throw things away when they’re broken, or toss them when we no longer have use for them. But what if you thought of your legacy as something more than an old box in a basement that only gets opened on Thanksgiving? What if you had one item to leave behind – something heirloom-worthy? How would you choose it? How could you leave it behind with style and grace? What stories would you attach to it? Maybe it’s a ring passed down from generation to generation; maybe it’s a portrait of your children done by an artist; maybe it’s even just an outfit made out of your grandmother’s favorite fabric that she passed down before she died. Think through how you can create something meaningful (and lasting) by going beyond cheap trinkets. Have fun choosing something unique! You might be surprised how much its value grows over time.
Leave behind a letter
Leaving behind a letter is one of the most personal ways to tell your loved ones exactly what’s important to you. As Sir John Templeton said, Your children won't remember what you did for a living. They remember how you made them feel. If that’s true, then there could be no better way to pass along your values than through a letter written directly from your heart. It can be left on their dresser or in their backpack; they might read it as an adult and realize just how much they mean to you. If nothing else, think about writing such a letter now – because someday you may wish you had. What would they want to know? Write it down, keep it safe and someday share your wisdom with those who matter most.
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