Build a Legacy You Can Be Proud Of

Legacy and fame are two different things. Are you looking to build a legacy or looking for that fifteen minutes of fame? I’ve provided some questions to help you build a legacy that is worth leaving.

Do you have a real desire for your “fifteen minutes of fame?” Most people would answer this question yes, without thinking about it. Of course we want fame.

But do you really want fame, or do you want a legacy? They’re not exactly the same thing.


Let’s take an example of two people who’ve passed out of this world in the last decade. First, Anna Nicole Smith. She left behind a lot of fame.

I’ve heard it said that her goal in life was to be famous, and she accomplished that. Her life was a self-made media circus for many years, and that was what she had said she wanted. In death, she was an even bigger target of the media.

But very few people talked about the “legacy” she left, in terms of a positive effect she had on the world. In fact, probably her only legacy is her daughter, who hopefully will grow up to have a better life, and less pure fame, than her mother.

Now let’s look at Mother Teresa. Most people would say she was famous, because her face was recognizable. In that sense, she had fame, but few people who knew who she was knew her birth name or really knew anything about her.

However, when it comes to leaving a legacy, Mother Teresa truly excelled. Yes, there have been some revelations lately that she had a crisis of faith, but this is part of her legacy: She knew that it didn’t matter if she felt God’s presence. She had dedicated herself to service, and she served.

That is a legacy anyone could be proud of.

What legacy are you leaving? Is it a legacy of doing things for others, of keeping your promises, of loving those you’re called to love, of being known as a kind and gentle person?

Or are you just aiming toward fame, hoping that people will remember you at all, and thinking that’s good enough?

For most of us, fame is not enough. We don’t just want to be well-known now. We don’t want people to say, “Oh, yeah, I remember him.” “Oh, yeah, she was a big deal way back when.”

What we want is to leave a legacy among people who knew us, and maybe some who didn’t, of being the kind of person worthy of remembrance. We want more than to be on television. In fact, we may not want to be on television at all. We may want to be with our friends and family more than we want other people to recognize us.

What we really want is a legacy worth leaving, and to leave it well. It may happen that our legacy includes being famous, but for most of us, that’s certainly not the main point.

To help build your own legacy:

  1. Think about what fame and legacy each mean to you.
  2. Which would you rather have, and why?
  3. What can you do to build your legacy each day this week, this month?

Thanks to The Next 45 Years for featuring this post in the Personal Development and Happiness Carnival, and to E3 Success Systems for including this in the E3 Carnival of Success Principles.

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