With the birth of the first child of Catherine and Prince William, the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, there is much talk of the baby’s future and the legacy of his family. Not all of us can leave a legacy of the British throne, but we can leave a powerful legacy in other ways.
The thought of my legacy started a few year ago, when I held my first grandchild. A few months ago, I learned a close friend is dying. Before those moments I had never thought about my age or legacy.
Then recently while reading Michael Gurian’s new book The Wonder Of Aging, this poetic passage about one’s legacy resonated in a way that wouldn’t have been possible just a few short months ago… “There comes a time in every life when the road ahead of us becomes shorter than the road behind… This is a time to take a census of our treasures and set a future course.”
Some might say, “What a sad thought.” I prefer to use it for motivation to leave a brighter future along with a legacy. The world needs its elders — those of us of a certain age have the perspective of hindsight. It’s that perspective that gives us the ability to shine the light on what we believe to be important and in how we want to leave our legacy.
Three Easy Ways to Leave a Powerful Legacy
“Legacy” is such a charged word in our culture. All too often, it’s thought of only in terms of power and one’s monetary estate. There is nothing wrong with leaving a monetary estate, however, there are other ways to create a powerful and meaningful legacy.
Legacy Tip #1: Tell your story. Even if your kids don’t pay attention [now], it doesn’t matter; it’s your story that matters. “From the beginning of time, storytelling has been the way in which we have understood our place in the world. The ways of the tribe, the knowledge, and values represented in the story have always been the guiding light. Now more than ever, we need to remember our stories and be part of that connection to a community that storytelling provides. Hearing the stories of our elders is a powerful way to connect with a true sense of self,” shared Lisa Bloom, author of the Amazon bestseller Cinderella and the Coach – the Power of Storytelling for Coaching Success and founder of Story Coach.
Crafting your memoir isn’t about having to prove anything. Leave out the infinite tales of, “In my day, we had to trudge uphill both ways….” Instead, share stories that place an emphasis on your specific family history, your knowledge and your understandings of the world. A family member just reached 100 and it’s delightful to hear her say; “From the horse and buggy days, we….” She really does remember the horse and buggy days growing up in North Dakota.
Telling one’s stories don’t have to be written; they can be a collection of photographs, a video or even an audio recording. It’s the sharing of the stories that are important, not the method of documentation.
Legacy Tip #2: Mentor at least one young person. Share your wisdom with young people. Not only does sharing your knowledge with kids help them, but it helps keep you vital too. There are many places to begin to mentor. Your grandkids or grandnieces and nephews are an obvious place.
Other places may be in a faith-based group, in schools or community groups, tutoring, coaching, even on the job so young people have a chance to discover different careers. Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Aging shared, “…if your primary craft is the company you created, that’s the craft or if one is a carpenter, that’s the craft. One may have spent one’s life raising kids. That’s a heck of a craft… there are a billion possibilities. We don’t want to lose any of those crafts. It can be formal, it can be informal, but we want to pass on that craft. It is not just that it’s good for the world, but for the soul, for the self.”
Legacy Tip #3: Repair your relationships. This third way to leave a powerful legacy is also great for your health both, emotional and physical. Research shows that forgiveness has proven positive health benefits. “It’s never too soon to start, yet know that the repair may not happen overnight,” added Michael Gurian.
Give yourself time to forgive and give others the benefit of the doubt. If you are the one that needs the benefit of the doubt, apologize. A sincere apology has to have a positive intention and positive attitude. We’ve all felt, nonverbally, an insincere apology. Those do more harm than good. “Be the catalyst to heal your poor relationships. Words have a way of connecting people or dividing them. Your choice of words can prevent a heart from breaking, a friendship from ending or a feud from brewing. Let your words be a source of comfort, support, encouragement, peace, and love – and you’ll be a better person because of it.” shared Amy Sherman, founder of the Baby Boomers’ Network.
Repair can’t always happen, but as much as possible, try to repair relationships. There’s a hidden legacy in repairing relationships; it can repair a whole family system. The next generation sees that there can be relationship repair, forgiveness, and healing.
By practicing these three suggestions, you as an elder will promote a legacy for your family and community of tranquility, healthy continuity, calmness and joy.
What have you done to create your legacy? Share in the comments below….
Sharon Sayler is a Communications Success Strategist. She shows people simple, powerful, easy to learn ways to communicate and enjoy relationships using conscious, courageous verbal and nonverbal communication techniques. Connect with Sharon and get your free gift at www.SharonSayler.com/gift