Whenever I travel, I always try to seek out the oldest pub in town.
I love being able to say that I’ve tracked down a historical landmark and learning the history behind each location. Knowing that I’m sitting in a spot that someone may have been enjoying a beer a hundred years prior is an amazing thought.
I often wonder whether the landlord or publican who established the place could have imagined that their legacy would still exist generations later? Continuing to offer its patrons the chance to enjoy a nice cold beverage (or two) across the ages? When I think of such experiences, the thought of my own legacy springs to mind.
When men think of the idea of creating a legacy, it is not uncommon for them to ask questions such as; “What mark will I leave on the world that people will remember me for?” or “What do I intentionally want to create today, that others might value once I’m no longer in this world?” or “What on earth will my own legacy look like?”
So, what is a legacy?
There are many different definitions of what a legacy could be. The traditional view is that legacy is creating something of value that can be enjoyed by future beneficiaries, such as our children, for the purpose of offering security or enjoyment. It may include a gift or endowment that is entrusted from a predecessor to an intended successor or descendent. This conveys that a legacy represents a transfer of ownership, that an heir or recipient intentionally receives something of value, such as money or property that can then be used at their own discretion. Some consider it as doing something that matters, such as a cause, an idea or a contribution that spans across generations. This concept can often imply that a legacy should consist of something intrinsic or tangible that can be used or built upon.
What inspires a man to create his own legacy?
There are many, many reasons why men feel compelled or motivated to create their own legacy. From the desire to provide for their family, to feel confident that they will live a safe, comfortable and secure life without the necessary hardships that they themselves may have endured. For some men, the desire to create a future legacy is an innate driver, while others barely give it a second thought. According to the social researcher, Susan V. Boas, “a legacy is fundamental to what it is to be human. Research shows that without a sense of working to create a legacy, people lose meaning in their life.”
Do men really, intentionally set out to create a legacy?
The idea of legacy, or creating a legacy is generally a fleeting thought. It’s not necessarily the driving force that gets most men out of bed each morning. Life can be all consuming and it’s easy to get caught in the weeds of our daily routine and our busy lives. If picturing our ‘future self’ is a difficult exercise, imagining our future legacy and the impact of what we do today, is often beyond comprehension. Having that degree of foresight doesn’t come natural (even those who have crystal balls in good working order) for most of us. Occasionally, something drastically shifts in a man’s world and he realizes that life is short and he faces his own thoughts of mortality. When this occurs, he recognizes that a legacy can allow him to extend himself beyond the confines of his own life. His desire to be, even remotely, immortalized, can offer something extremely powerful.
What’s wrong with the way we view our own legacy?
However, there is an inherent problem with the way that many men think about constructing their legacy. Picturing it as a future state or commodity to bequeath to a future generation, limits its potential. This mindset drastically limits how it is created, because it does not cultivate living, evolving experience. From another perspective, our legacy fails for those we want to pass it onto, because we fail to live in it, as it is created. A legacy needs to be experiences in the ‘here-and-now.’ It should be a way of living, rather than a destination or series of acquired objects. It requires complete presence in the life one lives now. Adopting this view of legacy, allows a man to live with focused intention on what is most important for his future. Living your legacy, creates an authentic foundation that can provide for future generations in ways far greater than accolades, money, power or influence could ever provide.
If you think it's time to explore your own legacy, or if you feel like your legacy might be 'off track', then call me on 512-470-6976 to start a conversation.
Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships.
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