I wrote this while flying back from London where I had been visiting my brother and nephew in 2016. It was my mother’s wish for her birthday (a significant one!) to travel to England to visit her grandson at school.
My nephew attends the boarding school Eton outside of London next to Winsor Castle. The school was founded in the 1400s. Crazy! It is hard to imagine something in continuous operation for that long. This got me thinking about legacy.
As my brother drove us away from Eton and back to London, he told us the history of Eton and it’s role within the English educational system. Eton, is probably considered the best school in England for boys. It has a rich legacy but they weren’t always considered one of the best. For a while, Eton and many other fine educational institutions lost their way in terms of providing quality education and there are many reasons for that. I won’t go into them but what struck me was that the school, over hundreds of years old, has gone through many phases. Good and bad phases, but it kept going.
Walking around the campus that is basically the town, name after name was inscribed on the walls. These lists of names were the boys who died in battle like the First World War or the Second or other battles fought by English lads. The lists are long, but despite the decimation of so many of Eton boys and men, the school continued, broadened and met the changing needs of the students as times changed.
Eton could have chosen to remain the same, it’s original purpose being a school for choir boys, but instead it changed and grew. Some parts are still traditional but they continue to prepare boys for the world they will experience once they leave Eton.
We don’t live or exist for hundreds of years like Eton. We have only a short time on earth. Some of the ways we used to do things still work and some of the other ways don’t work anymore. Are you recalibrating the way you live to meet the challenges of today? Not throwing away the past but living a life that includes the best of the old and the best of the new? Are you maximizing your potential and living a fully realized life?