What will your legacy be?


By Paul Clifford

Let me pose 2 questions to you

 1. What do you value most in your life?


2. How do you define success?

These are fundamental philosophical questions but for many of us we only ask ourselves these questions at critical stages in our lives – the death of a loved one or a health scare.  It often takes something extreme to cause us to stop and re-evaluate.

We ponder our own mortality and think about the way we are living our lives.

Am I doing it right?  Is there a better way?  What will my legacy be?

This leads to something like……


“It’s my partner and children that mean the most to me and yet I am working 60 hours a week and wound up like a two bob watch”.

“I have this great talent for helping people and yet I am in this crappy job just making money for someone else”

“I spend too much of my life waiting.  I’m scared to take risks.  I know I’m going to live to regret it”

Do any of these sound familiar?  Do you need to experience something extreme for you to take action?  Is it time to better align where you spend your time and energy with what you value?

Let’s take ‘Chris’ as an example.  He’s a Senior Exec working for a major pharmaceutical company and he works long hours including some weekends.  He says he values his family most but his actions don’t seem to align with that.

A motor bike accident that nearly claims his life is his wake-up call and he decides to re-define what success means. He decides that success will now be about being a great husband and father first and if that means he has to quit his job as an Exec, then so be it.

He’s ready to take action. Sounds easy, right?

Well, for many of us I’m not so sure it is.

You see Chris just happens to absolutely love what he does as an Exec.  Every day he has very high powered meetings with other senior people within, and external, to his organisation.  He finds the process of strategising about his company completely invigorating.  It’s a buzz he just doesn’t get doing anything else.

So now what does he do?  Chris wants to realign his time and energy with what he values most – his family.  But he doesn’t want to give up the job that he loves and, in fact, lives for.

So what does he do?

Do you have these kinds of dilemmas in your life?  Having to make difficult choices knowing you are being asked to choose one over the other?

When some of us think about what we value and what success means it’s often more than one thing.  When some of us think about our legacy it’s more than just being a good mother or sister.  It can be a number of things in a number of life’s domains – family, work, leisure, community, and it can be hard to pack it all in to one life.

Sure Chris wants to be a great husband and father but he also wants to be a CEO.  Oh and he also desperately wants to play guitar in a band and entertain his friends.

For Chris he has a real dilemma.   There are just not enough hours in the day.  Chris is afraid he won’t leave his preferred legacy.

We are told we should live a balanced life but what does that mean?  Does balance mean equal amounts of time devoted to work as to leisure, family and friends?

What about the balance between living for now and the future.  It’s sexy to live for now but what if I do too much of that and never ‘get ahead’?  Many of us want to live a long and healthy life whilst others are here for a good time, not a long time.  In the movie Wolf of Wall Street we saw the epitome of the latter.  Hedonistic behaviour was the norm. Life is a party where every minute should be maximised.  For the Wolf of Wall Street characters, the idea of denying pleasure now so as to enjoy it more in the future would be considered crazy.

But what do I do if I want both?

Chris wants both.  He longs for more time for now and for the future.  He’s told to smell the roses and yet he has a strong drive to succeed and leave a hard earned legacy.

What should he do?

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