Are you working toward leaving a legacy? As I am writing this, I am on my way back from Harvard. I went overnight with my mother to meet some “Wurf Scholars.” What, you ask, is a Wurf Scholar? (At least I hope you asked.) They are special scholarships for people in the labor movement to go to Harvard for a period of time and up-level their skills. They are Wurf Scholars because they are funded through the Jerry Wurf Memorial Fund. Jerry Wurf was my father and when he died the members of the union he had been president of, got together and created a fund that now gives opportunities for people in the labor movement to train at Harvard. The fund also does a few other things. Aside from my father’s fight for fair treatment of workers whether skilled or unskilled, he was a civil right’s leader and anti-nuclear activist. He left a legacy that continues to this day.
When I have to make these biannual trips to Cambridge, it obviously makes me think of my father. It also makes me think about legacy. What is going to be my legacy? I used to think I knew when I was a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher. The obvious answer was leaving behind some “art” that I had created. But that was wrong. When I had to leave the dance world due to an injury, I learned I had a much different legacy from that time of my life.
The legacy was of using dance to teach critical skills that would last my students a lifetime. Skills like teamwork, critical analysis, leadership, responsibility, empathy and a strong work ethic. I am proud of this. At my studio, after watching a class, one surprised father said, “You don’t just teach steps here, you are teaching them how to think and analyze and work hard.” This was followed by a promise not to bring his daughter late anymore! This pleased me not only because he realized what we were modeling at the studio but also that it mattered that he model better life skills for his child also.
For those of us who struggle with overwhelm, productivity, time management and completing tasks, thinking about one’s legacy might seem just another burden or an additional thing to mess up. But it is not. It gives your life direction and more meaning. It also gives you motivation. Obviously not enough to solve all of our problems but every little bit helps.
So what is the legacy you want to leave? As I have been thinking about this, I realize that hopefully part of my legacy as an ADHD coach will be that every person I work with or give a talk in front of realizes’ their full potential is limitless. That with the right mindset you can achieve great things no matter in what ways you’re different or struggle. Actually, I believe the more struggle involved, the stronger you get and the better prepared you are for your future.
Knowing that I want to leave this earth having helped people move their lives forward helps me to know what tasks to do and what tasks aren’t in alignment with this goal. Knowing what legacy you want to leave behind gives you clarity as to where your time should be spent.
Are you spending your time in the right places? Do you know what you want your legacy to be? Are you living in alignment with those goals? Write down what you want your legacy to be in a few words and keep it some place you will see often as a reminder of what you are working toward.