Your Legacy: A Spiritual Gift

“It is not what you gather but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have.”

by Bryan Golden

Bryan Golden

You may have heard the expression, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” There is nothing wrong with working hard and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Who doesn’t want to lead a comfortable life?

The opening quote doesn’t imply that you should suffer. Rather it speaks to a deeper understanding of life. The legacy we leave behind is determined by the lives we touch. It is not what we do for ourselves that matters, it’s what we do for others.

One’s legacy doesn’t have to involve the formation of a charity, a large donation to a hospital, or any other major financial act. You don’t have to work in a third world country to combat hunger, or live a austere life and give most of what you have to others. Although all of these actions may be considered admirable, it is often a lifetime of inconspicuous activity that has a lasting effect.

You effect people in more ways than you may realize. The power of small gestures of kindness shouldn’t be underestimated. Actions start a chain reaction. The manner in which you interact with someone will influence how they feel and subsequently the way they behave towards others.

There are countless numbers of unassuming people who genuinely care about others and do whatever they can, whenever they can, to brighten their lives. There is no kind gesture that is too small or insignificant to make a difference.

You don’t have to have a lot to give a lot. What you do defines who you are. Your actions are based on character rather than a desire for recognition. Although you don’t look for any rewards, the rewards are many.

There is the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference. As a bonus, what you send out invariably comes back to you. By your unselfish actions, you will attract positive elements into your life.

There are opportunities each day to give of yourself. It starts with always having a friendly smile for friends and strangers alike. The generous use of “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” is always appreciated. The objective is to radiate a positive energy.

Look to anticipate someone’s needs. Holding open doors, letting other drivers into traffic, helping carry packages at the grocery store, and regular common courtesies are all behaviors that help others.

Conversely, there is never any justification to take advantage of anyone. Regardless of how you are treated, you must resist reacting in kind. If you allow others to drag you down by their behavior, you sacrifice your own identity. You then flop whichever way the conduct of others pushes you.

Your legacy is tied to your having the conviction to be your own person. To do this requires self-confidence, character, and a genuine desire to be of service. You don’t need to impress anyone. Although you are comfortable with who you are, there is a continual desire to improve.

What kind of life will you have? What will you scatter? Why not live your life so that you dispense many good things? Everyone benefits. You will feel good. Others will feel good. It takes very little effort. There are no negative side effects.

You never know how far the effect you have will ripple. If you are not happy with what you have been scattering, today is a perfect time to reassess your priorities and start developing a legacy you can be proud of.

NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at bryan@columnist.com or write him c/o this paper.

©2008 Bryan Golden