I’ve been doing a #10daysofgratitude thing on Twitter for the past several days. I attempted to tweet a few tweets about legacy, and how grateful I am to have a perspective firmly rooted in the precept of legacy. I couldn’t do it, 140 characters just wasn’t enough. This post is my attempt to elucidate the paradigm that is at the forefront of my mind, constantly, and has been for the last decade. It informs every decision that I make – whether personal or business-related – and there’s little I won’t do for the cause.
Legacy. I don’t mean code. I don’t even mean something that’s old. When I consider legacy, I’m not even primarily considering anything that I’ll ever see. When I consider the effect of my life and my choices on my legacy – I’m considering what my life’s effect will be on my grand-children’s grand-children’s grand-children. 10, 15, 20 generations down the road – of what value will my life have been? Not only to my children, but to my community, to the world at large. How do I create a life, a family, a business that matters long after I’m gone?
I’ll borrow from an industry I know little about: construction. I can’t build much to save my life, and I’m grateful for those that can. I do understand this: the larger the structure you build, the more important the integrity of the foundation. I have a dear friend who was in construction for a couple decades, he focused specifically on skyscrapers. He tells me stories of novices building structures and they’ll build the foundation such that it’s off, just by a tenth of a degree or so. Not a huge deal, right?
If you have a structure that is designed to propel 1,500 feet into the sky, being off by a tenth of a degree at the base means you have the potential for catastrophe once you get to the top. If you plan on going far in life, if you want to create things that matter for the long-term, if you want a legacy that lasts – you have to understand the importance of proper foundations. Whether the scope is personal, family, business or community – foundations matter. Living life with these things in mind completely changes the framework for decision-making. It affects everything I say yes or no to, it affects things as practical as how I raise my children, the type of work I take on, the committees and organizations I devote my time to, what my will includes, how much life insurance I carry, etc.. There are a million different philosophies on how to live your life, but mine boils down to this: I want my life to matter after my life is over. When my life is over, my hope is that I will have invested my time, my passion, my resources into things that pay dividends to the world long after I’m gone.
The quality of the image above is roughly as crude as its contents, but my hope is that it may, in fact, prove helpful. It’s a basic version of the internal matrix that every decision, small or large, goes through. It’s not perfect, but it essentially reads like this: How will the decisions I make (today | in the short-term | in the long-term) effect (me | my family | the world around me, including my local community, friends, etc.) and what timeframe ( short-term | long-term | eternally ) will these effects be realized across.
To circle back to the genesis of the post, #10daysofgratitude. I’m grateful for this framework that guides my decision-making, it makes light work of the mundane, daily decisions as well as the long plays and strategic moves we make as a company and I make for my family.