Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Harriet Tubman, Gandhi, Viktor Frankl, Nelson Mandela—and so many more portraits of human excellence we can look to for inspiration.
“But I’m not them.” Nope, you are not them, you are you. And what we need right now is YOU.
None of us are perfect. Not even our heroes from the past who help inspire us in the present. And I humbly posit that each of them would likely tell you that very truth. They weren’t perfect. They just decided that each day they would do their best. To make a meaningful impact. To live with purpose.
To show kindness to someone that day, to advance truth that day, to make something beautiful that day, to practice patience and humility that day, or to stay dedicated to learning that day.
Day after day, they each constructed their unique legacies.
Which brings us to some myths to debunk:
MYTH: You need to be perfect (or famous) to leave a legacy that matters.
TRUTH: Be brave, find ways to serve others—and you will leave an indelible mark upon the world that only you can.
MYTH: You will create your legacy from one BIG win.
TRUTH: Legacies are built over time. That’s why it’s so important you don’t burn yourself out. You need to invest in your energy—fuel yourself with sleep, healthy nutrition, hydration, nature, exercise, relaxation, and time for friends and fun—so you can endure, persevere, and live a long life filled with legacy-creating moments.
MYTH: Constant stress and self-criticism are the necessary costs of success and legacy making.
TRUTH: Living at a harried pace with chronic self-criticism will not help you be your best. It will zap your energy, make you fear failure, and limit you—rather than assist you in cultivating the courage needed to try new things, overcome challenges, and maximize your full potential.
So: Strive for excellence (not perfection). Focus on ways to create your legacy TODAY. Optimize your self-care and self-talk (talk to yourself like you would a friend, not as your own worst critic). And you’ll be a happy high achiever.
AWARENESS: What do you want your legacy to be? How can you live today to honor and build that legacy?
ACTION: Do one thing today that makes you feel proud. That prioritizes your highest values. (Pro tip: Think small-but-powerful. Pick up a piece of litter and help protect the environment. Reach out to a friend, family member, or neighbor who you think may be lonely. Keep working to achieve your dreams—stay tenacious—especially when it would be easier to quit. Say thank you. Connect with someone with a smile.) And give yourself credit for doing your best to create your unique legacy—starting now.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”—Leo Buscaglia
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”—Pericles