No, I‘m not building a “legacy”

Lots of people talk about building a “legacy.” They want to be remembered when they’re gone.

I’m not trying to build a legacy. By trying to build a legacy, you ruin your chances of doing the things that lead to legacies in the first place.

If you want to build a legacy, you want to be liked, and you want to have had an impact. Both of these aims are distractions.

If you want to be liked, you’ll be afraid to be different. If you’re afraid to be different, you’re unlikely to discover your true self.

If you want to have had an impact, you want to “help people.” Believing that you’re “helping people” is a sure way to cloud your judgement. You feel so good about yourself that you can’t see whether you’re actually helping people at all.

Besides, if you’re too focused on helping others, again, you’ll learn very little about yourself. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t help anyone else.

If these aren’t good enough reasons to not try to build a legacy, consider the following conversation:

Person 1: I want to build a legacy!
Person 2: Oh, so when you’re dead, you’ll still be insecure?

If you want to build a legacy, you want to be remembered after you’re dead. In a world where so many people are ruled by what they can’t seem to attain—be it six-pack abs or a Lamborghini—this really takes the cake.

You can get six-pack abs through diet, exercise, or even surgery. You can get a Lamborghini by accruing imaginary points in your bank account, and exchanging those points for one (or, just visit your local exotic-car-rental service). But to be remembered after you’re dead? How the hell are you supposed to have any control over that?

When I die, I’ll be dead. If I’m not forgotten then, or even before then, I likely will be forgotten within a generation or two. I can’t say I like that idea, but I accept it. Because any other way of thinking is a recipe for misery.

This isn’t to say that my life doesn’t have purpose—I have a strong sense of purpose in my life, in fact. But that purpose lives within the confines of things over which I have control.

You may have noticed the irony of not thinking about legacy because thinking about a legacy distracts one from the types of thoughts and actions that lead to legacy. That’s like third-level recursive legacy-building, isn’t it?

Maybe it is, but ultimately the goal is this: I want to discover my truth. In the process, I share what I learn. If my books are sitting on the dusty stacks of a library on Mars in 300 years, that’s great. But one moment wasted hoping for that is a moment that could have been spent on getting where I’m going.

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