Not long ago I wrote a blog post about the problems of legacy systems and the fact that they can hinder innovation because they leave you tied to old platforms, old programs, and old ideas. Recently, however, I have been thinking about leaving a positive legacy. I think that there are three basic ways that a person can leave a legacy.
1. Build Something
Perhaps your lot in life is to build something great. This could be a great product, a great company or maybe a great process that helps make the world more effective and efficient. Thomas Edison is an example of a person that had the need, the desire, and the skill to build something. He left a lasting legacy in many ways. Whatever you choose to build, I challenge you to build something that will last and not just something for the expediency of the moment or the day. Make it count. Make it last.
2. Teach Someone
Teaching is a way to broaden your reach and your influence. You don’t need to be a formal teacher or professor, but look for opportunities large and small to be able to teach someone a skill, an action or a principle. You may never know the far- reaching consequences of your actions. I believe that John Wooden, the late great UCLA basketball coach was an example of an excellent teacher. < http://www.coachwooden.com title= Information about John Wooden> Some may argue that his legacy was coaching ten NCAA championship basketball teams, but at the end of the day he was a teacher of young men. He taught them basketball, leadership, and skills that they would retain for the rest of their lives.
3. Inspire Someone
Inspiring someone does not have to be a grand production. Even quiet acts can move people to do great things, and a real-life example is the best kind of inspiration. A number of years ago I attended the funeral of a friend who was prominent in the community. He was generous with both his time and his money. The hall was packed with friends and relatives and I was inspired that day to raise my level of activity and leadership to help in a small way to fill the void that he left. You never know when you might inspire someone else to greatness.
We all have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by building something, teaching someone, or inspiring someone. A transitory legacy is just that, it is transitory. I challenge you to look at your calendar today to see if there is an activity or an appointment or a task that will start you on the road to building your legacy. Build something that will last.
What are you going to do today to build something great or inspire someone else to greatness? Let me know.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.