What is your legacy?

About a month and a half ago, I put together a plan and a pursuit for my long term personal goals. I felt it was important to lay out where I wanted to be in the future so I can create a plan and stay the course.

What I didn’t realize is that I would stumble onto the question I have been asking myself ever since.

“What is my legacy?”

What I realized is, to me, it’s not only about money, it’s about a lasting impression on those around me. It’s about being remembered for the good I have done and the success I created, not only for myself, but again, for those around me.

Many people in the startup world focus solely on the capital gain, but it’s never ending. Sometimes it’s a constant pursuit for more and more but to what end? Does your riches lead you to happiness? What happens after that?

This all came to me, funny enough, while watching the show House of Cards, where Kevin Spacey stars as Frank J. Underwood, a politician from South Carolina who is the House Majority Whip. Spacey is a character of power. He portrays the ability to set a plan of action and attack. One by one,he lines up moves like he was playing chess or poker.

In one episode he mentions his friend Romy’s decision to turn to a lobbyist, choosing money over power (and in my opinion, respect):

Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power - in this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries.

To me, that speaks volumes and it has led me to asking myself, what will my legacy be? So, I spend time strategizing what the old stone building that stands for centuries will be for me.

We’ve seen it in many ways: washed up celebrities, the epic tales of sports figures from the 90s like Kenny Anderson and Allen Iverson who seem to be constantly riddled with financial crisis after making millions and great careers. Even Scottie Pippen, one of the 50 greatest NBA players ever still has his troubles.

It goes to show, it can all go away in the blink of an eye. In the case of Scottie Pippen, his legacy of greatness will go on for decades while his finances deteriorate. Remember, it can be taken from you by a couple bad investments, frivolous spending, and just plain silly decisions.

Not to be grim, but, when we are gone, I think you need to ask yourself, how will you be remembered? After your lifetime, there will be a point when your “Mc-mansion” is falling apart or gone, and your memory will be left with the highest bidder when it’s sold.

For the people that come in and out of your life, you can leave a lasting impression or one that is only fleeting. You will either be someone they share positively with friends and family or locked deep in the back of their mind, never to be brought back out. The impact we make on those around us, the lives we touched and changed, and the memories we made can last longer than a brief moment.

Legacies are created by making an impact, changing the world — they are created by the pursuit of greatness. Sure, money can buy you material things, but they don’t last forever. What it can’t buy is happiness and it doesn’t build a legacy — and in some cases — a legacy can last for centuries.