"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." - Charles Dickens
Over the last couple of weeks have been contemplating the subject of creating a lasting family legacy. When does one start thinking about creating a legacy? Is legacy simply the wealth possessions you pass on to your children? Why do leaders ponder their post existence legacy and even try to shape it? Should you aspire for a personal, family, or business legacy?
In thinking about the subject of legacy, the opening paragraph from the Charles Dickens novel "A Tale of Two Cities" came to mind. Containing my favorite words in English literature, this simple dichotomous paragraph clearly illustrates the struggle of creating a legacy. Set against the backdrop of tumultuous historical events, Charles Dickens' entire novel is about the tensions of family and love in leaving a lasting legacy.
Is legacy simply the material wealth passed on to your children?
Money is important but very seldom will it buy you a legacy. "A legacy is the story of someone's life, the things they did, places they went, goals they accomplished, their failures, and more. Legacy is something that a person leaves behind to be remembered by. Legacies are pathways that guide people in decisions with what to do or what not to do. By wanting to leave a mark and create a legacy example for people to follow."
When does one start thinking about creating a legacy?
Your personal legacy is being defined every single day by the actions that you take in shaping your life's journey. You control what ultimately will be the foundational elements that future generations will remember. For a few like the Wright Brothers, it can be that single event in history of flying the first airplane. For most of us, it is the everyday building blocks of success, overcoming obstacles, and constructing a better life that are the foundation elements of our future legacy.
Should you aspire for a personal, family, or business legacy?
All three by default are part of your legacy. Your personal drive and the actions you take will shape your legacy. Your family will be your most ardent torch bearers of a positive legacy. "Your leadership (in business) is not shaped and your legacy is not defined at the end of the road but rather by the moments shared, the decisions made, the actions taken, and even the mistakes overcome throughout the many phases of your career."
As you ponder your personal legacy, reflect on these words from Maya Angelou, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
In building your future legacy, focus on the best of times, the age of wisdom, the epoch of belief, the season of Light, the spring of hope, and everything you have before you. Make everyone feel as they are the most important person in the world.
Every single day of your life, your actions are sculpting your future legacy.
In memory of my mother, Luigia Coreno D'Onofrio who passed away on August 3, 2014. In January 2015, she would have been married 60 years to my father Olimpio. My mother's legacy is our strong family, memories of love and laughter, the most amazing pizza and lasagna, an infectious smile and personality, and many sacrifices along with my father in ensuring the children had a successful life.