A legacy never feels like a legacy when it’s being created. It feels like a constant grind. What results though is something that outlasts you. I found reminders of this fact not once but twice this past week.
The first time occurred when I casually checked a web site I used to run in grad school. It turns out that not only is it still going strong, one MBA is using it to tell a very personal story in an attempt to change people’s perceptions about transgender identity. When I read her account of coming out in business school, I couldn’t help but think back to how hard it was just to keep that blog afloat. All those sleepless nights, all those heart-to-heart conversations with the other MBA bloggers making sure we had enough content to sustain the blog for another year. The fact it was still around to help someone else tell their story seemed to bring some justification to all that hard work.
Later in the week I had a second encounter with another legacy. However, this time it turned out that I was the one taking advantage of the legacy left by someone who came before me. It happened as the result of the passing of someone I only really met once as a part of a business organization of which I am a member. As the group gathered over drinks to tell stories of the recently departed member’s dedication to the group it dawned on me that the organization was still there for me to take advantage of because of her hard work.
Seeing two different sides of legacies this week was an interesting reminder of how important they really are. When you think about it, we work hard to build something we want to last but we can only really only see things in the short-term. We are never really able to grasp the full scope of how or if it will impact others that come after us.
It might sound like the take-away from a Disney movie but legacies matter. The things we do now often end up affecting people we may never know in ways we may never think of. What I can say is that the next time I get to feeling like something is just another thankless task, it might be worth noting that its most likely a part of a legacy in the making.