Thinking about your legacy and how you want to be remembered in your life is always an important discussion. In research on organizations, we think that organizations have two many goals: (1) performance goals – how do you perform right now, and (2) survival goals – how are you going to perform over time.
I think is is important to think about your survival goals, or how you want to be remembered when your time comes. You have a 100% chance of dying.
Thinking about legacy, or your survival goals, is important because then you are likely going to change your actions and how you are going to interact with people. You will likely dedicate resources differently in your life.
Think About Your Legacy
Fortunately, there are ways to ‘extend’ your life by thinking about your legacy in this world. The way that you have legacy, in my view, is to think about the traits or identity that you think matter when you go. For me, being sweet, helpful, kind, and loving are some of things that I want others to remember me by. Consequently, it is important for me to prioritize these traits in my life. Then, you spend some time thinking about how to develop these traits or identity in your your own life.
If you prioritize things like being sweet, helpful, kind, and loving, then you have to work on how to achieve those goals. Forming that identity will take a lot of effort and time.
As a professor of innovation, I would then say that you should look at available technologies to leverage this identity. This is where information technology is important. We now have many tools at our finger tips, social media, blogging, YouTube, and contract help to extend you impact beyond who you currently are. I personally think talking openly and sharing your thoughts about your identity is important for your legacy.
One of the beautiful things about information technology is that its impact is both democratic and persistent. Meaning that everyone can find that identity if they have access to the internet, and that what you say lasts forever online. What you say, and who you are online, now becomes who you actually are.
For me, I grown to embrace social media. But, this has been a journey as part of the R3ciprocity project. I was almost always afraid of sharing my thoughts, but as part of getting the word out about R3ciprocity (an editing software based on reciprocity principles), I had to learn to be more aggressive and active online. It has been a real personal journey for me, as I am naturally shy.
Following the ideas laid down by Gary Vaynerchuk, I have come to realize that you don’t have to be ‘mean’ on social media and the internet. You don’t have to be a jerk. However, you choose and create the world you want around you. The internet is a echo-chamber. The world you see on social media is the world that mirrors your moves and thoughts. If you have negative thoughts, you will find negative things online. If you have positive thoughts, well, the world is truly amazing!
Do A Difficult Project.
You need to do difficult things in your life. Get out there and do difficult things, even when you feel tired, it is wet and rainy, and you don’t want to. The day that you are out in the rain, and everybody else is sleeping in, is the day that you are making progress on your legacy.
You need to have difficult conversations that you don’t want to have. If you are feeling sad, talk about it. If you have been hurt by someone, go seek out a conversation with them. These difficult conversations are the way that you build relationships, and start working on your legacy.
You just need to have a some grit. No one is going to tell you what to do, or give you any helping hands. You just have to get up and be happy to do dirty jobs around you. These jobs are not fun. However, they are stepping stones towards building your legacy.
An important aspect of building grit is realizing that you can do this on your own. You don’t need to listen to what other people say or conform to some ‘ideal’ type in your career. You need to learn what is right for you. You be you. (We created this blog post about striving your career that can really help you.)
The day that you realize you are happy doing the things in your life that no one else wants to do, is the day that you are going to start building confidence in yourself, and the day that you start building your legacy. No one is going to push them forward, except yourself.
You, Alone, Have To Build Your Legacy
Nobody cares about you. The day that you start realizing that no one else cares about you or what you are working on more than you is the day you start working towards your goals is the day that you actually start accomplishing things in your life.
Coming to terms with the fact that you are the person that is worried about your ‘survival’ is difficult. You have to have those moments where you are going to give up on yourself, but then you dig deep, and think about how you want to be remembered.
When you realize that you are the one in charge, you have to start moving forward. The journey is going to suck. Nothing about working on difficult, legacy, projects is easy. It is going to suck and people are going to make fun of you. You will want to quit every day. You are not going to make that much progress every day.
But, guess what? It’s going to suck and people are going to make fun of you when you are successful too. People are going to say things were handed to you, or it was so easy for you. People are going to ask why are you enjoying your time?
Don’t wait for others to give you advice, money, help, or whatever you are looking for. If people were mean to you. So what? Disregard them. Do they matter?
Go Build Your Legacy
Now, most of you are not going to actively think about your legacy, and if you do, you are likely not going to do it.
However, for those of you who are inspired by this blog post, I want you to start working on your legacy. How are you going to survive after you are dead?
It is going to be hard.
But, I implore you: Don’t stop with your legacy project that you are working on! Don’t quit. Get after it!