Updated: Jan 24
I was recently coaching a group of smart and talented individuals and noticed that their visions of their personal legacies were hindered by blind spots.
Here are the five practical areas to not miss when building a legacy:
1. Not realizing the power our past habits have on our future.
There is a cause and effect to all actions and inactions. Like taking or not taking next steps, or the steps after that in order to grow. I sat next to an individual for a moment and I realized that if they were not spoon fed information, they lacked the habit of internal initiative or motivation to learn or follow through on their own.
2. Not pushing through to grow and overcome past wounds.
The wounds can drive life decisions without the individual being fully aware that they shied away from personal responsibility. When opportunity unexpectedly comes knocking one day, the time to practice responsibility was wasted then.
What comes to a mind is a gentleman I recently met who had been abused as a child. When he became an adult, he lost part of his life to a cocaine habit. It impacted his mind’s ability to act, think, and behave in the public. It also impacted his ability to date and trust others thereby reducing his capacity to reach his full potential.
Friends intervened to save him from a life of substance abuse. Just this past month and being retirement age, he found out that he inherited a very large sum of money.
He reminded me of a child in a grown adult’s body. Whether it was conscious or subconscious, he stunted his own growth. Life now requires him to manage more than he anticipated.
He can prevail, but he made it harder on himself by self-destructive choices. The good news is that he is reaching out in asking for help related to financial management. Things he did not learn when he could have.
3. Not setting aside time for what brings us joy.
I remember a scene from the late 1990’s where Oprah towed a wagon of beef fat onto the stage. Are we carrying a wagon and if so, what is in it? I have noticed that people can carry dread and misery in their wagon, even if it robs them daily of happiness and laughter in the moment.
There is no cost to a smile or noticing what is good in the world. Sometimes, their dread and misery may have been personal to them or they carry the baggage of their ancestors. Perhaps this emotional place of dread keeps them safe, but it also becomes their comfort zone. More than a comfort zone, it can also become an identity and what their peers know them by.
4. Not realizing the power of spoken words.
When I hear an individual compete in a negative way with another, such as by interrupting or by using cutting words, they not only degrade the person they are speaking to … they can destroy both party’s courage and confidence. They also do not realize that they are weakening a potential strategic alliance.
However, when one is trapped by their own self-identifying story of “self-pity” or “tragedy”, they miss the glass being half full. They also miss their ability to create a new story or change their life story. People can literally speak blessing out of their lives or curse another and themselves.
5. Not realizing the power of knowledge.
Do we not always need to keep learning? It is said that we can either have intelligence or money in what we bring to the table. Would it be wise not to delegate one’s money fully to another? Shouldn’t we keep reading, learning and finding mentors?
I suspect that most adults today could not pass the 8th grade exam from the 1800’s. What if we aimed for a higher standard of our personal education? What could we gain by committing ourselves to learning all sorts of different subjects? After all, who wants to be the person at the table who does not know what is going on?
With a little self-reflection or openness to receive constructive feedback, we may be able to steer our future to more possibilities and more fulfillment. With a positive mental foundation set in place, a personal legacy will be easier to shape, connect with and carry out.