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Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Legacy Is Like Legos

It's the last weekend in April, which for me is always a special time, I make the pilgrimage back to Lincoln, Nebraska every year so I can re-acquaint myself with the men of my college fraternity. It sounds a little juvenile and "animal housish" I know, but trust me it's not like that at all.

As a member of the board and a founding father of Omega Alpha Chi, I hold a very fond place in my heart for this group of men.
My children aren't quite old enough for me to say I've left a legacy in them. I know I've obviously shaped their lives, but I'm not quite sure that a 9 and 5 year old have the mental ability to grasp the concept of legacy from the receiving end yet. So this organization, in its 13th year, is the first legacy I've been able to leave. While it hasn't been left technically since I'm still alive, I at least have a good foundation built and am very proud of it.

The whole leaving a legacy thing has kind of come and gone in the buzz words of leadership category, but I hope that you each have the opportunity to experience leaving a legacy of your own in some way.

One thing I find funny is all the talk about how to leave your legacy. From my experience you don't set out to do it intentionally. Even in the middle you don't say to yourself "Hey this could be my legacy". Rather, you follow the passion you have for something and that passion guiding you turns into what you are remembered for.

This article from Entrepreneur.com explains it in different words.
"Making a lasting impression on the people who mean the most to me is what I
really care about, and I want to be remembered for the right reasons: for being
kind, warm, sincere, generous, unique, special, funny and fun. Being remembered
as an entrepreneur or leader matters less to me than being remembered as someone who was a good listener, gave great advice, showed good judgment, and really
cared about what I did and who I did it with every day."
I think what the author and I have both failed to say until now is that you don't leave a legacy intentionally. Rather, you live your life adding one Lego brick on top of another, one brick at a time. Sometimes your actions tear down a section of bricks, other times the bricks are added quickly. Your legacy isn't the Lego, but rather the interpretation of how others see the bricks you've assembled when you're gone.
Like kids watching clouds in the sky one may see a rabbit and another may see a car. You can't change what they've seen so don't be concerned with it. The only thing you can do is try to assemble the bricks in the best formation possible from your view point at the time you stack it, and not worry about how others interpret them.