Who Inspires Your Legacy?
I often found, when working with Stress Management clients some years ago that problems around their confidence and self esteem would link back into their earlier lives and the messages they were given as a younger person. I’ve talked about that before in other blogs. I used to say to people “don’t let them be your legacy” but that’s very easy for me to say and not always as easy to do. Those early messages are really hard to get rid of. It’s like they’re welded into our psyche.
For me, there are two parts to our legacy. One, to think about some of those earlier messages we were given and to challenge them now. Is that message still right? Was it ever right? Was it more about the other person than me? Who am I today? Those questions are important to think through; to work out who you are, what your strengths and abilities are and to feel proud of the person you are today. Not twenty, forty or sixty years ago. Today.
The other part of our legacy links to my blog about making a good impression; not just the first time but all of the time. So if some of that blog resonated, you’ll be making a good impression every second of the day – fabulous, well done! but I think our legacy is more about a feeling. What’s the feeling that we leave with people? I worked with people in the NHS who had a fierce determination to tell the truth and do the right thing. It was amazing to witness, hugely inspiring and their legacy (for me) is one of great strength and determination.
How did those people get to be like that? What was in their life experiences that made them want to fight to do the right thing? All our life experiences are different and so there’s not one way in which people grow in that sense but there’s something that makes them, and many others strive to do the right thing by people. To be honest and open, and to have difficult conversations but leave the other person with a feeling of great respect for them. That’s a gift.
I am always hopeful that good will win out. That might be the result of watching too many Disney films but I remain hopeful that people, generally will be kind and supportive to each other. But I read a newspaper article this week that very much made me doubt that good and doing the right thing is winning out. A young man, called Abraham Badru was killed in March, shot dead as he got out of his car. Twelve years earlier, at the age of 14, Abraham had fought off a rape victim’s attackers, identified them in a line up and been rewarded for his bravery. He was 14 and he stood up for what he thought and felt was right. Amazing. Abraham lived in fear for the rest of his life, that there would be a form of retribution for his actions and it is feared that he was right, that he was killed for what he did 12 years earlier by saving a rape victim.
So good isn’t winning out is it? But Abraham’s legacy lives on, for people like me (and many, many others) who are hugely inspired by the strength and courage he showed at such a young age that affected his wellbeing and how he lived for the rest of his short life. He could have gone off the rails but he didn’t, he studied and achieved a Masters degree. His story makes me even more determined to show people that being good, kind considerate, thoughtful, whatever that good might look like, takes real strength. We are all the sum of our experiences so by finding the people that inspire you and thinking about their legacy you can add a little drop of that to your own legacy, that feeling you leave with other people. That might just be by telling someone about Abraham’s story, for instance or thinking about someone that’s inspired you before you go into a difficult meeting, where you need to come away with a positive outcome. You can add someone else’s strength and determination into your own. It’s powerful stuff.
I guess it’s about being authentic; that’s a word we’re hearing a lot at the moment and I think it’s right. Be yourself but consciously think about the impression you make and the legacy you leave with people. I’ve met lots of great people over the years but there are only a handful that stick in my mind and I can’t really tell you why they stand out. There was just something about them, not anything very tangible but just a feeling of strength and determination which I find very inspiring. Did they walk about with that in mind? I don’t imagine so but their inner strength shone through and that, for me is a fantastic legacy. Try and tap into the energy of some of your inspirers and keep them in mind as you go through your day. They might help you feel stronger, walk a bit taller and leave people with a really good feeling about you.
Take good care please and have a great day.
Best wishes, Karen