Handing Down Your Legacy


by Kenneth Justice

~What will your legacy be?

That is something I’ve been thinking about for some time. Ever since my father died in 2008 I’ve been pondering the meaning of what it is to leave a legacy.

How do you want people to remember you?

I’ve recently watched quite a few documentaries on Bob Marley and a picture has been forming in my mind about the man; he wanted to be remembered by,

–> the love he had for his family and friends

–> the passion he had for music

–> his commitment toward the freedom and equality of all people

–> and his  love for Africa

I’ve talked quite a bit about the fast paced nature of life here in Western Culture because I believe it is this fast food frenzy paced way of life that leaves many of us feeling a tad bit overwhelmed.

Perhaps you are thinking; “Kenneth, you want me to think about life legacy today? I barely have enough time each day to brush my teeth and put on clean clothes!”

Unfortunately, many people are in that same boat; they are so busy, so conflicted with day-to-day responsibilities, and so overwhelmed with merely keeping their head above water that they are thankful to put their head on a pillow at the end of the day and breathe a sigh of relief that they made it through the day alive.

I don’t have any simple solutions…..

I realize life is fast paced……but is that really what we want to leave as our legacy, is that how we want our children to remember us; “my mother was  overwhelmed”

In my days as a college student studying counseling I was taught to help people learn that they can be happier if they slow down their life…..

You can’t control traffic….but you can change how you react to it

–> A slower-paced life means enjoying your mornings…instead of rushing off to work

–> A slower-paced life leads to more meaningful conversations with your friends and family….instead of 40 character text message conversations

–> A slower-paced life leads to more meaningful moments, building memories that will cement a positive legacy

How do you want your friends and family to remember you?

Do you want people to remember you as the person who was always critical and never encouraging?

Do you want people to remember you as the person who always held grudges and never forgave?

Do you want people to remember you as the person who always talked and never listened?

Each day that we are blessed to live is an opportunity to add positive building blocks to our life legacy……

And to borrow the colloquialism, ‘the quality of the bricks we use will determine the quality of the structure we are building’

I think about legacy a lot because I witnessed the death of my father. It impacted my life quite a bit. His death was the reason I went back to school and finished my degrees in psychology and counseling. His death initiated a drive within me….to do something more with my life.

George Eliot said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been

It is never too late to realize that life is precious…..life is fleeting…..life is over before you know it!

How do you want to be remembered?

I suspect one thing my children will remember by is my love for coffee, which reminds me, I think I will have another cup.


Categories: Culture & Society

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18 replies

  1. Steven Covey talks about beginning with the end in mind. Another great quote says at the end of you life you won’t regret that you didn’t spend more time at work, but that you didn’t spend more time with your family.

  2. I think what we intend for our legacy to be and what it actually is are separate matters. You can only control so much.

  3. Excellent post, Kenneth. A great reminder.

  4. Oh Kenneth! I was just dithering between going shopping or having a cup of coffee and your blog has ruined my resolve to do the former! I just have to have a coffee now before I go shopping, but at least it means I can ponder my legacy and re-read your post x

  5. One regret I have is that when I was younger I didn’t realize I was making memories.

  6. Our society is currently plumb in the middle of the information overload era. There are more distractions at every turn than ever before. Staying focus and building a consistent, meaningful legacy is harder than ever and your post goes a long way toward having us all stop and think for a few brief moments. Nicely done.

  7. I think I’d like my legacy to be that people are able tell my family I was a nice person who never turned his back on anyone. Since I doubt I’m going to be made benevolent dictator of this planet who can banish warfare and killing that’s probably not a bad thing to be remembered for.

  8. this hit me like a sledgehammer right in the face. thank you for such a timely thought.

  9. Some excellent question, especially with everything in society encouraging us to do more and more increasingly faster. The fast paced, hectic life is great for a short period of time–I did a four year stint of working 10-12 hours a day for 6-7 days a week and loved it!–but totally not sustainable in the long term. I guess though that it depends what life means to you. If you want to have a lot of money/power/influence, then of course you are going to run long and hard. Then maybe the challenge is not to create a slower paced society, but rather a society in which no one is penalized for running a little slower–or even, for jogging!

  10. I love that quote by Eliot!
    I agree, I think Western Culture has become too fast paced for most people to really have the ability to enjoy life. We’re all too busy chasing after the next big things they’re telling us we have to have. We’re all too busy running in the rat race. To drop out seems impossible.

  11. My mother and my grandfather both passed on in 2012 so I too have been thinking a lot about personal legacies. I have blogged about them both. I’ve almost completed a book dedicated to my mother, an educationalist. And my son has inherited his grandfather’s love of words! Good post.

  12. This was a great post for me to read today. My family is about to move to a very small town in the country and I’m very excited for the change of pac of life and what it will mean for my little family. Hopefully it will change my legacy 🙂

  13. I love this one! I think about this often, especially because I am so impatient, and often frustrated easily with things…this is not how I want to be remembered. Thanks for the reminder.

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