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How to leave a legacy

Mar 8, 2023 | Insights

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You don't have to have a legacy as a goal in its own right. All you have to do to be remembered is to make a difference to others.
Christine McVie died in November last year (2022). I never knew her, but she had been a constant presence in my life as the singer-songwriter with Fleetwood Mac. Even as late as 2017, in her mid-70s, she was still writing and singing in collaboration with Lindsey Buckingham on Buckingham McVie.

Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood formed Fleetwood Mac in 1967, and McVie joined the band in 1970. I was a teenager then and picked up on the band with the release of their debut album. Over 55 years later, I hear the music of Fleetwood Mac at least once a week, and it remains a source of joy. In short, McVie shared her musical talent with the world and made a difference in my life and the lives of many.

Last week I saw a photo of the band while browsing Fleetwood Mac’s music on Spotify. The image must have been taken at an early concert and shows the members of the band looking out from the stage towards the audience – all except McVie, who glances back at the camera with a slightly coy look.

A long-lasting legacy

The photo, almost more than the music, brought home McVie’s legacy of music and images that will probably last far longer than the 55 years it took to build her portfolio. Even though she is no longer with us, here she was, looking directly at me whilst I listened to her remarkable voice.

I suspect that most of us want to leave a legacy of some sort, not least because it is a way of overcoming our innate fear of the unknown that comes with death. It is good to know, whilst we remain alive, that we have done enough in this world to be talked about after we have gone. After all, as Oscar Wilde said, “There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

In Victorian times, elaborate headstones and mausoleums became the legacy of many, including those who left their mark on the world through the long-lasting media of literature, music, painting or history, and the less well-known.

Legacy comes from service, not goals

Of course, it’s now much easier to immortalise your legacy in a book, film or social media. However, you still have to do something in your life to have registered as a legacy.

I find that those whose funeral orations are inspiring to have, in the main, been for those who have made contributions to the lives of others. In particular, they have prioritised service to others (either paid or voluntary) and, consequently, have made a difference to others, for which they will be remembered long after they are gone.

So, you don’t have to have a legacy as a goal in its own right. All you have to do to be remembered is to make a difference to others.

Photo attribution

Photo by Daniel Robert Dinu on Unsplash

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