Your Legacy is So Much More Than Your Name

Does it concern you that your name one day will fade from peoples’ lips and memories? That your life had very little impact on them?

I was shocked to look up the definition of “Legacy” and read: “an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.” As in: "my grandmother died and unexpectedly left me a small legacy." Here was I thinking of grandiose things left to you like:

·        Grandma’s Secret Sauce recipe (think Colonel Sanders)

·        The Solution to the Riemann Hypothesis

·        A fleet of rare and vintage cars

In an article in The Guardian: “Ten of the Strangest Wills of All Time”, people used their will as a romantic gesture (a rose every day to someone’s wife). A way of lashing out at one’s family  ($110 million not to be distributed until 21 years after the death of their last surviving grandchild). Or what best could be described as a mindless act (a fortune left to 70 strangers randomly chosen from a phone book).

Are you mindful of what your legacy will be? Is it something you are working towards? Who will be the recipients of it? Is it even on your radar? Can you really control your “brand name” (what you think defines you, what people think of you) after you have shuffled off this planet?


My mum passed away recently and I was left as executor for her will. As I went through the process of carrying out her wishes, memories came flooding back. I was privileged to do mum’s eulogy at her service and I think therein lies the true meaning of a legacy. The stories of your life, the people’s lives you’ve touched. The expressions on people’s faces when they talk of you when you are long gone.

You could be a millionaire leaving buildings to schools or hospitals. Name up on it in lights or etched deep into concrete. But who are we to kid ourselves to think it will be a lasting legacy of bricks and  mortar. Take a walk on Hollywood Walk of Fame and listen to the often spoken comment: ”Never heard of them!”

The true legacy you leave lives on through those you love and touch and invest time in. Those who tell stories about you to their kids and friends. Your name may start to fade, but the bit of you that connected with a bit of them will continue on.

As you put energy and resources into your next project to build your legacy, choose wisely.

in Phil, Early Retirement Advice, The Human Condition, 
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