I personally don't have any goals or visions about leaving a legacy after I pass on. I notice that, for most of us, the death of a friend (except for close family) is mourned for a matter of days or weeks, and then our life goes on.
Perhaps we shouldn't worry about who pays attention to us after we are gone, but rather think about who we influence positively while we are still alive.
I believe that to influence others profoundly is to live an authentic life. It may not matter to you that my teachings were profound or my accomplishments impressive. I really don't think that matters so much. The people who have had a profound impact on my life are those who are living—or have lived—an authentic life.
My most influential mentor told me once that all core personal power comes from self-honesty or humility. And he didn't mean modesty; he meant honesty, which sometimes is displayed as confidence, sometimes fear, sometimes self-loathing, sometimes love and passion, and sometimes total bewilderment. In other words, we are most powerful when we live a transparent life, letting all of our humanity flow through.
Here is what my mentor meant by personal power: the power to bring into reality something that does not already exist—power to influence others positively; power to change beliefs; power to change the course of people's lives; power to shift a cultural paradigm.
I admire people who live a life honoring what we might call their core values, their unique God-given gift and the purpose of their lives. These people are integrated and congruent, committed to living their chosen life versus what their parents insisted on or what their teachers or society expected, people with the courage to be who they are: ever evolving human beings—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Some people's chosen paths have such a public impact that they leave a legacy for millions, for instance, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and now Steve Jobs. These people are not revered because they were perfect. In fact, the more we know about their personal lives, the more we see how far from perfect they were. Yet we felt their humanity.
Others may have had a direct impact on fewer people, as their scope of work was more local, but influence they did just the same. I'm thinking of our parents, a minister, a teacher, a coach, or just a cool neighbor.
We could call these folks people who exemplified the line, "to thine own self be true," people who let conventional wisdom be gone with the wind, saying to all those who would have us be like them, "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn."
The legacies that inspire me are those true, authentic spiritual beings living an honest human experience. If I am committed to any legacy, it is that one—the living one.
RICHARD BLISS BROOKE is a thirty-five-year
veteran of the network marketing profession,
a member of the Board of Directors of the Direct
Selling Association, a senior member of the DSA
Ethics Committee, and the owner of two network
marketing companies. He is the author of
Mach II: The Art of Personal Vision and
Self Motivation, Mailbox Money: The Promise
of Network Marketing and The Four-Year Career.