Randy Pausch, a computer science professor diagnosed with terminal cancer literally gave his last lecture a decade ago, just months before his death from cancer. He knew his time was coming to an end. His lecture wasn’t about dying, it was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling other’s dreams, and seizing every moment. Essentially, it was about living and living with intention. Pausch said, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Legacy is an inheritance — a gift to others presented in the way we live. Pausch was faced with the challenge of how to teach his three young children what he would have taught them over a twenty year period. His best idea, give a “last lecture” full of the lessons of intentional living. The lecture itself was not his legacy but he managed to capture his legacy in the lecture. 

Peter Strople says, “Legacy is not leaving something for people it’s leaving something in people.” When I think of the people who have gone before me, I recognize their legacy in me. My mentor of 20 years simply allowed me to be with her — in her home, in her meetings, in her presence while she did life. She didn’t teach, she modeled. Her investment in me is priceless. Leaving a legacy requires of us to invest in others. 

Shannon L. Alder says, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” Our shared experiences turn into stories. I come from a rich heritage of story tellers. One of my favorite pastimes is sharing stories of the previous generation with the next generation. It honors the legacy of those who’ve gone before us and gives an opportunity to invest in those coming behind us. Stories keep the legacy alive.

Maya Angelou says, “If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” Challenge people by giving them roles, assignments, opportunities you know they can handle but they don’t yet know. This kind of empowerment can’t be taken away. Empowerment changes the course of history. In Maya Angelou’s words, empowerment “can’t be erased.” Leaving a legacy is leaving a trail of people fully empowered. 

Legacy is what you leave for the next generation. What are you intentionally leaving?