Will people remember when I’m gone? Will they notice my passing? Am I leaving something worthwhile on this earth? Have I created something that will live on beyond me? Am I sharing the knowledge and skills that I have? Today, I have been thinking about legacy.
Have you given this some thought too? How can you help those who follow you? Are you sharing your interests and passions with the next generation? Are you passing on the skills and knowledge that you have accumulated over the years?
At school, I was desperate to join the army. I thought about it, day and night. At 15 I applied (and won) an Army Scholarship that paid a contribution towards my school fees in the sixth form. During the final selection process for the scholarship, we went to the Officer Training Academy at Sandhurst for a couple of days of interviews and physical testing.
One interviewer asked a question that has always stuck with me. He said, “Sandhurst is full of paintings, sculptures and statues of long-dead soldiers and generals. What’s the point? Why do we have them? Wouldn’t it be better to replace them with some more modern art?”. I stumbled around, giving an answer about them providing inspiration.
Whilst true, this answer is only part of the picture.
In an organisation like the army, it is vital for each new group of recruits to understand their history. To understand where they have come from. To see the values, traditions and culture of the organisation they are becoming a part of. The history underpins their learning. It fosters aspiration, pride and spirit.
The stories we tell ourselves and each other are the most powerful way we learn. Experience and knowledge is shared with the next generation through the recounting of what has happened before.
Back to my original question about legacy. I think the most powerful legacy you can leave behind is not measured in financial terms or even physical ones like the buildings you build. But in terms of what you have taught the next generation. We must spend our time teaching and sharing our knowledge as our parents and teachers did for us.
You must pass on what you have learned throughout your life. Whether it be about nuclear physics, knitting or how to climb a tree. We owe it to those who have gone before. They shared their skills with us as we must do now.
So today think about how you can teach or share something you have learned. Pass on your knowledge. Pay it forward by giving back what has been given to you. Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.