It’s Not a Chicken and Egg Situation
Legacy is one of those words that evokes different feelings in people depending on a lot of personal factors.
For most of us, it isn’t something we think about a lot and when we hear or read the word, it will typically pass without much resonance.
For some, though, especially as we get older, legacy can become something that begins to take on more importance.
I’ve dealt with this subject here on occasion over the years, but this week, inspired by a quote I saw on LinkedIn recently, we’re going to take a fresh look at it, from a whole new angle.
For reference, I did touch on this earlier this year, in Leaving a Legacy They’ll Be Proud Of.
Back to David York’s Well
One of the people whose writings and speeches have been at the root of a number of blogs of mine over the years is friend and colleague David York.
Normally whenever I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him speak, a post based on what I heard has quickly followed suit.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that he has nudged me once again, although this episode comes as the result of a single sentence he recently posted on my favourite social platform.
It read, simply:
“You Cannot Leave a Legacy Tomorrow
That You Aren’t Living Today”
If you need a moment to pause and let that sink in a bit, then you know how I felt when I saw this.
Of course I quickly went on to send it to myself so that I wouldn’t forget to share this here.
“Do as I Say, Not as I Do” Just Doesn’t Work!
This idea of having to live a legacy today in order to leave one tomorrow, immediately conjured up an expression that most people will be familiar with, that gets thrown around when discussing the wonderful subject of parenting.
Those who like to tell their kids what to do, while behaving in ways that are not aligned with those words, are probably familiar with the facetious expression, “Do as I say, not as I do”.
Another more general version is that you need to “walk the walk”, because you won’t succeed if all you do is “talk the talk”.
Actions speak so much louder than words, and as York points out, this also applies to one’s legacy.
Actions Speak Louder Than Money
When people become successful financially, they quickly learn that their wealth can create a number of shortcuts that are not available to those lower down the wealth pyramid.
This is wonderful in many areas of their lives and enjoying the benefits of their hard work is part of the reward.
However, when they begin to believe that such shortcuts are applicable universally, in every area of their lives, that’s when they sometimes learn an important lesson.
Money can fill in a lot of gaps in one’s life, but not all of them.
Back to parenting, I know that most people who play the parent role can identify with the idea that money is not an adequate substitute for time spent with your offspring.
And so it is with legacy. Money alone cannot buy it. And I believe that that’s what York was driving at with his message.
People + Assets = Legacy
This harkens back to a post I wrote way back in 2017, Is Your Continuity PAL in Danger, where we looked at the fact that without “people” willing to carry out your legacy, the assets that you accumulated would not be sufficient.
That blog was inspired by Tim Belber, and I think that York’s quote takes that a step further.
Those people who will be carrying your legacy forward after your time on earth is over necessarily need to have been inspired to do so by seeing your actions while you were alive.
If all you do is finance them to do something, without them having seen you model the behaviours, the likelihood of creating a sustainable legacy shrinks dramatically.
If You Haven’t Lived It, You Can’t Leave It
This message is not reserved for the wealthy, of course, as it applies regardless of one’s socio-economic status.
At lower levels, though, there are typically no illusions that a legacy will survive unless it is built upon actions.
I believe that York’s message was aimed straight at those we were discussing above, who somehow think that their financial wherewhithal can buy them something without putting in the sweat required.
Govern yourselves accordingly.