What are you living for? For most people the answer falls into one of two categories: My kids or My career. For some people it’s both. And it’s easy to see why these are the two most popular answers. Kids and career can be all consuming. Having children is a twenty-four hour project. They’re there when you wake up, you have to make sure they’re fed and clothed, get them off to school and back home at the end of the day, feed them again, bathe them, pester them about homework and chores, monitor their screen time, and if all has gone well, they’re still there when you go to bed. And that’s just the checklist of must-dos. In between there are school activities, sports, playdates, sleepovers, vacations, and hopefully, some time for mentoring, life-coaching, inspiration, and love and affection. I’m getting exhausted just writing about it.
People who live only for career might avoid things like changing dirty diapers and going to PTA meetings, but they can become just as consumed by their jobs as the lowest hovering helicopter parent is by their children. They eat, breathe, and sleep work. They’re always navigating relationships with clients, work mates, and bosses. It’s a nonstop climb, always looking to reach that next rung on the ladder, to get that new title before their name, and to keep that cash flow a-flowing.
Now, of course I have nothing but respect for people who take on the challenge of parenting or excelling in their profession or doing both at the same time. But we need to draw a distinction between what we’re doing (parenting, career, bungee jumping) and why we’re doing it. And if we’re going to live a life of fulfillment, our Why must be about something larger than ourselves. It must be about what we’re going to leave behind. That’s legacy.
So what do I mean by the word legacy? It feels like a big word. Like something that’s only possible for special or powerful people. And typically that’s what most people think when they hear the word legacy. Henry Ford left a legacy, you might be driving one right now. Steve Jobs left a legacy, you might be reading this on it right now. The Founding Fathers left a legacy, we’re all living in it right now. But a legacy doesn’t have to be something that touches the lives of millions of people. According to the Oxford dictionary, a legacy is “the long-lasting impact of particular events, actions, etc. that took place in the past, or of a person’s life.” Now let’s just narrow it down a bit: Legacy is the long-lasting impact of a person’s life. That impact can be a big one like personal computers and smartphones, or it can be a small one like your grandma’s famous recipe for ambrosia salad.
The point is, our legacy is what we leave behind, and if we want to be sure that what we leave behind has the greatest impact, we need to be clear on what we’re living for today. It all begins with having a clear vision of living for something larger than ourselves. Again, it doesn’t have to be grandiose. Maybe your vision is to be a parent that raises emotionally resilient, intelligent, highly productive children. That would be an awesome legacy. Imagine the impact on the world if every parent had and lived by such a vision. Of course, you could also shoot for the stars. Maybe your vision is to create something that changes the world. My personal vision: Eliminate suffering as efficiently as possible and give people access to lives better than they could have imagined. I know, it sounds like a lot. And it is. But it’s the vision I’ve created for myself and I dedicate every day of my life to realizing it.
Once we have established our vision, we need to identify how we will serve ourselves within the greater framework of vision. This may seem counterintuitive. Are we living for ourselves or something bigger than ourselves? The answer is both. In order to realize a vision greater than ourselves, we need to get something out of it as well. It’s simply human nature. Satisfying a personal need or want provides the motivation for achieving the larger vision. Thomas Jefferson had a vision for creating an entirely new nation. Talk about a big ask. But in the process of realizing that vision he was able to pursue his own political ambitions. It’s what kept him moving forward even on the days when that larger vision might have seemed impossible to accomplish. For me, it’s the ability to hone my own personal mastery within the framework of alleviating suffering in others. By helping you I’m also helping myself. That’s what we call a win-win!
Finally, we need to understand our Why. What in the heck are we doing all of this for anyway? It doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t need to sit down and write a master’s thesis about it. It can be something as simple as “I want to leave the world a better place than when I came into it.” Even if it’s just a small corner of the world, or just the corner of the neighborhood where you grew up. The point is to be very clear on the reason for pursuing your vision in the first place. And this is where I would caution you to be wary of superficial reasons like fame or money. So many people equate the word legacy with household names or enormous fortunes. And that’s certainly true of some legacies: Rockefeller, Carnegie, Kennedy, Disney, just to name a few. But let’s not forget the basic definition of legacy: The long-lasting impact of a person’s life. Size doesn’t matter. Did you contribute something to your workplace that has made the business more successful? Congratulations, you’ve created a legacy. Did you raise a couple of kids that are now living their own visions to make their own piece of the world a better place? Congratulations, you’ve created a legacy. Things like notoriety and a big fat bank account might end up being byproducts of you realizing your vision, but they shouldn’t be your reason for getting out of bed every morning.
When I started my practice money wasn’t anywhere near the primary motivator. In the beginning I would have worked for free, and often did. I simply became obsessed with the concept of transforming people’s lives for the better. I watched my mentors, sometimes with just a few words, have an enormous impact on the lives of others. I made it my mission to gather the tools, techniques and strategies from a variety of disciplines to create a system for transformation. I built my vision for eliminating suffering in the world. In the beginning, I worked for donations—clients might give me a few bucks here and there. On rare occasions I might get a check for five hundred or maybe even a thousand dollars. The dollar amount didn’t really matter because I was doing the thing that lit me up, the thing that gave me purpose. I woke up every morning with a fire under my ass that was fueled by the need to fulfill my vision. Over time my business grew, mostly by word of mouth, and the money I was able to earn grew with it. One of the byproducts of pursuing my vision was the ability to begin accumulating wealth. It was a result, not a driver. If simply making money had been my Why, I probably wouldn’t have gotten very far. The way I look at wealth today is as a resource to fulfill vision. It enables me to have a greater impact—more resources, more training and education for me, a bigger team of leaders and Trainers who can serve more people. And for myself personally, enjoying the lifestyle it makes possible and the experiences I can share with friends and loved ones…and from time to time, a fast car.
The legacy I leave behind will be a tried and true system for achieving personal mastery, and that system is the result of pursuing a vision for eliminating suffering. I’ve managed to reach tens of thousands of people and the larger vision is to reach millions, even billions more. I know that’s a tall order and I may not see it come to fruition in my lifetime. But what I’ve built, the legacy, will long outlive me. I don’t need to go down in the history books or have songs written about me or statues erected (Okay, maybe an action figure would be cool). The point is I live a fulfilled life because I’ve dedicated it to realizing my vision. And the life of fulfillment is greater than any superficial reward. The only way that can happen is when you make the decision to start living for something greater than yourself.
When you stop living solely for yourself, you actually become the best version of yourself. In order to do that you have to have a vision that you believe in, that you commit to, and that you know is fulfilling something beyond you. Because when you declare a mission for yourself that is both worthy of you and greater than you, that is the path to mastery and an extraordinary existence. And the byproduct of that will be riches beyond your imagination. Perhaps money, but more importantly the realization of who you are, the evolution of your consciousness, the realization of your potential, and a life worthy of living.
Our Power Series is designed to train you in the tools, techniques and strategies for living your own legacy, whatever that might be. We teach you the skills for training the nervous system so that your emotional state aligns with the vision you want to create. When you attend one of our Power Series Weekend Intensives you'll experience a life-changing paradigm shift that you can leverage to catapult your vision into existence. You'll also have the opportunity to work with one of our Certified IM Trainers, and maybe most importantly, you’ll be joining a community of like-minded individuals on the same journey toward realizing their vision. And don’t snooze on our membership option. As a member you’ll have 24-hour access to our full curriculum, as well as bonus content and Members-Only Zoom sessions with yours truly. Click HERE to learn more about the Power Series and sign up today!