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Sep 30 2015

How to leave a legacy

Leaving a legacy for those that come after us!

What legacy do you have? Well, you might ask, “I thought this was a website of thoughts for young men, why should I care about a legacy? I am not planning on dying anytime soon!”

A legacy is what is left in the memory of people when you are not around. Usually this refers to your death but I want to use it to refer to the “trace evidence” that your life is producing, every minute, every day, every month, every year. When you were in the bathroom this morning, what did you leave behind? Did you leave a clean sink? Did you leave dirty clothes all over the floor? Did you leave wet towels on wooden furniture? The next person that comes into that bathroom will “read” your legacy. They will say, “Oh, I see that Tom was here, what a mess!” Now, there is a legacy that you would rather not leave.

The Bible says that a good name is worth more than rubies. Interesting, it is better to have a good name than to have riches. In my experience I have found that a good name often leads to riches. Let me explain, how many times have you purchased an item because someone recommended it? How many times have you purchased another item from the same manufacturer because the first item was of good quality? See, that is a “good name”. In your case, all you have is your name.

The meaning of your name is made up of all of the little legacies that you are leaving in your wake. It is like the popular TV show “CSI”, they go into a crime scene and use the traces to figure out what actually happened. Well, in our lives this is much easier. We leave traces all of the time. Every time we leave the table without taking our plate to the kitchen, every time we decide to let someone else get up to do something instead of ourselves. Every time we see people working on something and choose to avoid helping. Every time we drive by someone that is broken down on the side of the road. Every time we use harsh words, yell, scream, manipulate, lie, steal….. you get the idea. You are leaving your legacy constantly.

I learned these lessons a few years ago and once I started to implement them, the effect was powerful. My wife and I had an on-going discussion as to who was responsible for picking up dirty clothes from the bathroom floor. She thought that I should take care of my own clothes. I argued that it was her job and that she had all day to do it in but I had to go off to work. What I did not realize was that I was building a legacy in her mind that I was an inconsiderate jerk that treated her like a servant. Well, this underlying negativity continued for years. Once I figured out that it didn’t matter what I thought was “fair”, what mattered was what legacy was I leaving? What name was I building up in her mind? Who did she think I was?

At that point I started thinking about what “traces” was I leaving behind me? When my wife started going about her life, what traces did she see of me and my life? When she went into the bathroom, did she see a mess and think, “Oh, I see Dave was here!”. When she went to where we had sat before bed, did she see the remnants of our snack? Dishes, bags or socks? Did that make her think, “Oh, I see Dave was here, now I have to clean this up”? When she went downstairs, did she see my dirty dishes or any other “legacy” that I left her?

So, I decided to try to never leave anything “negative” to be found when I was gone. I started cleaning up anything that she might find while I am at work and make sure, as much as I am able, that she doesn’t have negative thoughts about me while I am not there to defend myself. I took this one step farther and started buying flowers every week, hoping that she would see the flowers and thing positive thoughts about me. What a concept! Use your traces to bolster your name while you are absent!

So, here is my question to you, what legacy are you leaving in the house every day? Do people have to pick up after you? Do you think that makes them think well of you while you are away? How is that going to help you to have a better name? (hint, hint… it won’t)

So, look at your legacy and see if you can’t improve it. It is much easier to improve while you are alive than if you wait until your dead and in the grave!

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