While touring Birmingham, Alabama with Merrill Stewart, we went by Jones Valley Urban Farm, and while there, we saw this man making a wall out of stone and brick remnants. I told Merrill that one of my proudest moments was building a stone wall at my first ever house, because as a tech nerd, it was a sense that I’d created something with a bit more permanence than my day job normally allowed for. There are many ways to think about your legacy, and now is the time to start thinking.
No matter your age, thinking about what you’re leaving behind is an important lesson. If you’re a parent, what are you equipping your kids to do? If you’re a business owner, what is your business giving back to the community? If you’re a college student, it’s still not too early to wonder how you’ll do your career as well as give back along the way. What will be your legacy?
Right now, my legacy is pretty ephemeral. I’m a kind of digital Johnny Appleseed, spreading ideas that others will grow into orchards of new ideas. But while talking with Merrill, I also said that I liked the Bill Gates/ Warren Buffett method: do all your earning and then build up enough that giving back makes a much bigger impact (Gates convinced Buffett and others to donate 50% of their wealth to philanthropy). Maybe I’ll go that route.
Or maybe it’s a combination of things. Maybe it’s a mix of physical, real world legacy points that we’ll give back, but also all the care and giving and sharing that we give along the way.
It’s never too late to start thinking about your legacy, about what your contributions mean to the larger picture. It’s never too late to start planting acorns. And it’s never too early, either.