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Leaving a Legacy

When people leave something behind they feel a sense of purpose near the final days.

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 -"The legacy we leave is part of the ongoing foundations of life," says business philosopher and author Jim Rohn. "Those who came before leave us the world we live in. Those who will come after will have only what we leave them. We are stewards of this world, and we have a calling in our lives to leave it better than how we found it, even if it seems like such a small part."

-Gerontologist and author Ken Dychtwald and his colleagues at his company, Age Wave, discovered four "pillars of legacy": values and life lessons, instructions and wishes to be fulfilled, possessions of emotional value, and property and money. When asked which pillar meant the most to them, both groups answered resoundingly: values and life lessons.

"There's this enormous craving, this desire for people in their maturity to share what they've learned, to pass on lessons of a lifetime, to teach, to feel that their life experience is being invested, even planted, into the field of tomorrow," Dychtwald says. "There was also a similar response—a natural, innate appetite on the part of younger generations—to receive that."

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

We can work with those who are in their final chapter (dependent on the length of chapter) leave something behind to help others and leave this earth a better place. This can give those who are passing a strong sense of purpose and it can help many others, who could use the legacy that was left, create a better life for themselves.

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Human Library Project


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Photo of Garrett

Hi Michael, looking through these posts and comments, I think there's definitely a shared sense that death is a lifelong journey--something that has to be actively nurtured along the adventure we call life. I wonder how we can influence our educational infrastructure--both in-school curriculum, a culture we promote in the home, in our media landscape--to develop these four pillars of legacy. Central to the four pillars, I think, is a capacity to transmit and receive stories, the ability to distill a great number of insights into something memorable--a balanced but dynamic interplay among the arts, science, tech, engineering, maths. (STEAM education!). 

Photo of Michael

Interesting.  One thing I am getting is the idea that one of the issues with death is that we do not embrace it, particularly at a young age when people find it hard to explain what death actually means.  So to start that conversation early in all avenues of experience to eventually build a legacy and reduce the stigma that our culture has.  To have those relate-able stories to eventually create future insights for others from their personal life journey.  

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