Three weeks ago, my mother died. The first death that really mattered in my life. Death now seems so final.
This post is not about my mother or her death. It’s about some of my related reflections and how you and I can use death to gain clarity and enthusiasm for life.
A few key questions that quickly surfaced for me are:
- What am I striving for in this life?
- Does anything I’ve done so far really matter?
- Am I living my best life, or is life living me?
I am told these musings about life, death, and meaning are a normal part of the grieving process. Though, I think all significant endings (e.g., employer, role, marriage, etc.) give us the same opportunity for reflection and creation forward.
However we get to those questions, they are important ones to visit and revisit over time.
The answering is complicated by the many facets of our lives. We are bosses, parents, employees, neighbors, children, and more.
The answering is complicated by the choices we have, and the ones we’ve already made. The person we married, the sequence of employers, our homes, and more.
As I hold the past and look ahead, I wonder whether my legacy will match my intent.
After my mother’s death, I became so aware of how much her legacy was squarely in the people she loved and who really knew her. She didn’t write a book. She didn’t have a career. But, she taught me many things, was instrumental in developing my self-esteem and my sense of community service. She was an artist who would not share her art with the public; and so, only known to her family. And, she had a 60-year loving partnership with my father. She leaves a lot of learning with those who knew her. Her legacy will be the same on some ways and very different from mine in others.
We’ve been talking about creating alternative futures, exploring how we might construct our career-life. Now, extend that work to ask the question:
“What is the legacy I choose to leave behind?”
How will my teams remember me? How will my clients carry my work forward? What will they have learned? What future will I have opened up for them, and how? What will they know about themselves as a result of knowing me?
Think about it. My guess is that you have quite a legacy started already. It’s not all in the future. Importantly, our legacy is always in the making NOW.
Notice today any and all opportunities, with your team, your nemesis, your child, or partner to build toward that intended legacy.
Let me know what you see.