This week my family lost a greatly-admired patriarch. As a young lawyer, my great-uncle Joseph Ngwenya, sponsored many young Rhodesians, my father among them, to study abroad. His selfless deeds transformed the fortunes of many families and generations to come.
This got me thinking about the importance of actively building a legacy. To me, this is not simply about grand acts or creating timeless works of art but more about how you will be remembered. As a parent, a friend, a spouse, a teacher, a sibling, an activist, a mentor…
I was taken by this quote which expresses the idea eloquently.
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” —Shannon L. Alder
How are you using your qualities, talents and resources to enrich the lives of others? Are the moments you are creating today, the memories you would like to endure? If not, that is worthy of further reflection.
So how does one contemplate their legacy? One way is to write your own eulogy. Yes, it does sound a little morbid and the first time I undertook this exercise, I was sceptical. I’m not in the habit of entertaining thoughts of my mortality and the idea seemed trite. Until I tried it. I encourage you to do the same. A variation on the same exercise is to imagine a speech being given about you at your 80th birthday party.
The exercise motivated me to think about how I would like to be remembered. And further, to ask myself whether I am living my life in the manner in which I want to be remembered or working towards the goals I ultimately want to achieve. It certainly focused my mind and has encouraged me to live fully and purposefully.
What will be said about you? Which of your attributes will stand out? In which ways are you inspiring others?