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What Is a Person's Legacy?

Mary Gormandy White
Legacy - words from wooden blocks

When a person dies, the mark the individual left on the world represents that individual's legacy. While a person's legacy can involve money, the concept of legacy is much larger than the value of an individual's estate. It is about the richness of the individual's life, including what that person accomplished and the impact he or she had on people and places. Ultimately, the story of a person's life reflects the individual's legacy.

Examples of a Person's Legacy

If you've ever wondered what people will remember about you after you are gone, that means you have spent some time thinking about your legacy. The same is true if you've spent time wondering if the world will be at least a bit better because of what you did throughout the course of your life.

Accomplishments

The things a person accomplishes throughout life form the basis of the individual's legacy. A person's legacy of accomplishments isn't just about winning awards and coming out ahead. It includes all kinds of accomplishments, such as successfully overcoming adversity, raising resilient children, excelling as a leader, creating inventions or innovations, and much more. The things a person does and achieves throughout a lifetime form a powerful legacy that others will remember about them.

Impact on Others

The influence an individual has on others is also an important aspect of legacy. People who set positive examples for others through their actions and words can leave a powerful legacy of good deeds and appropriate behavior. Parents and grandparents greatly impact their children, helping to mold their beliefs about family values and love from an early age that will impact them and future generations. Those who exhibit bravery leave a legacy of selflessness and courage. Everyone impacts and influences other people in some way, including friends, acquaintance, coworkers, neighbors. People can also leave an impact on the larger community, such as through serving on a nonprofit organization's advisory board.

Doing Good Deeds

The good works that a person does throughout life can establish a legacy of kindness, generosity, and social responsibility. From helping others who are less fortunate or in a vulnerable population, those who do good works throughout their lives establish a positive legacy that helps make life better for others. From volunteering to acts of kindness to charitable organizations or individuals in need, there are countless ways that good deeds leave a mark on the world. For example, part of Oprah Winfrey's legacy will focus on her charitable works and leadership academy.

Sharing Resources

Speaking of good deeds, the resources a person shares also impact the individual's legacy. Donors who bequeath large sums of money to educational institutions or charitable organizations often have buildings or landmarks named after them. This is one form of legacy related to wealth, but resources aren't limited to money. People who generously share their time, talent, or expertise are creating a positive legacy of sharing resources for the good of others and the greater good. For example, teachers and others who go above and beyond when it comes to sharing their expertise in service of others often have awards or scholarship programs established in their names. For example, Michael J. Fox's legacy involves sharing resources to fund research on Parkinson's disease.

Legacy Isn't Always Positive

Keep in mind that a person's legacy isn't always positive. An individual who behaves in unethical ways to get ahead without concern for others will leave behind a very different legacy than an individual who lives a good life characterized by high moral standards and concern for others. People are well-served to remember that everything they do in life works together to create the overall mark they'll leave on the world. When making choices between right and wrong, a person who chooses to do what is right is forming a positive legacy while those who make decisions that are unethical or otherwise wrong are laying the groundwork for a negative legacy.

What Is a Person's Legacy?