Our family farm has mostly disappeared. The land still flows, but the homestead signs are almost gone.
When I went to our family farm last year, I snapped this picture. These grain bins are the last reminders that a family worked this land. One of the odd things about them is they were present before my mom and dad bought the farm, and now they remain again. The only reason they are still around is no one really wants them. In today’s world of larger farms, these grain bins don’t store enough. They are a sign of smaller farms, simpler times.
Even though this picture was taken a few months ago, it popped back in my mind as a question: What will stand after I am gone?
It is that vision thing, but more tangible.
It is an important question to think through and answer, as the response should guide us in our daily life. I think about it, but I honestly don’t have a complete answer today.
- I think my sons will be what stand after I am gone and what their lives develop into.
- I think my writing will stand, maybe at least with my family. The real reason I write this blog is for my kids. I hope when they are in their twenties, they will read through these posts and gain something from them, maybe learn a little more about and from me.
- I think about the relationships I have, but know the memories will slowly fade as the people I know fade away.
- I think whatever I do between this point in time and the end of my life will stand, although this is somewhat undefined and definitely unknown.
A funny thing is that this is a short list, but let me list the things that will not stand: My work as a marketing professional; my contributions or discussion points in many, many meetings; my hours worked; my home; my car; my clothes; my books read and collected; and my possessions.
The list can continue.
Having a job is important. Having a home is important. It is all part of a revolving door though. I walk through, and someone else takes my place to keep it moving around. What stands the test of a meaningful life?
The simple reality.
The simple reality that focusing on just one area of our life is impossible and impractical. If that happens, there is complete imbalance.
The reality is that we do things that take a stand in three areas:
- In our work: Words and actions on integrity, honesty, coaching, and inspiring are all things we can do in the place where we work. Most of us need to earn something, and we can do it in an honorable, meaningful way.
- In our home: Loving, engaging, guiding, and building a family is a worthy, meaningful thing to do. Enabling the people closest to us to be better may be one of the most central things we can do.
- In our life: Surrounding it all is what we do with our spare time. Giving and inspiring a community can have a longer term impact. More importantly, it affects people, here and now, positively.
The simple point.
The point is rather simple. We need to spend more time thinking about what will really stand after we are gone, and we need to spend more time doing the things that will stand after we are gone. It is about doing things that matter in our work, our home, and our life – balanced and meaningfully.
Maybe it’s just me being guilty of not embracing and doing more of the things that really matter in life. I can accept that, although I know there are others. I just have to pick up a newspaper and read the stories.
The simple point may lead to a simple action, which is carving out and protecting the time we spend doing the things that will stand the test of time.
Is it really that simple?
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What Will Stand?
Loved this post – especially the notion of life as a revolving door and doing things that will survive the test of time.
Thanks, Dorothy! Really appreciate your feedback and insights. Jon
I enjoy the way you ponder the important things in life Jon. As you mentioned, there are very few things that stand once our physical presence on this Earth is gone. Investing in those things (which are almost always PEOPLE, and not THINGS) that live on after we’ve departed is a worthy calling. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of living my legacy.
Appreciate your comment, Randy. Focusing on people is what will stand as we move on… They will pull forward the worthy things done and the right principles exhibited. Grateful! Jon
Legacy. We all want to leave behind something significant. It can be sometimes daunting to think about it. But if we think of the legacy of our everyday life – the lives we touch, the smiles we bring, the random acts of kindness, the holding of our children’s hands, the simplest acts of sharing – all those intangibles – THAT can become our legacy.
We can all leave a significant one. By making each act stand tall. By infusing it with love.
Well said, Kumud. Thank you.
Jon, we are clearly cut from the same cloth. When I chose to live life with purpose and meaning a richer experience in life reveled itself. It does come with hardships in a world where many chose to skate along the surface, but meeting people like you makes the choice all that sweeter.
Thanks so much, Shawn. Very grateful. I hope that someday we will be able to meet in person. I have enjoyed getting to know you in the social media world. You add so much value in the communities you build and contribute to. Thanks! Jon
I really enjoyed reading this today, Jon!
The influence I hope to leave on this world may not be immediately obvious or apparent, rather I hope to inspire others to be good to themselves and each other through my example. Which means I need to be good to myself.
I don’t expect to be outlived by the animals I’ve rescued or even many of the lives I’ve touched, but each life touched in positive and inspiring way touches another, and another, and another. This is what I hope is standing after I’m gone.
Have a great day!
I have no doubt that will be the case, Chrysta! Just in the short time I have gotten to know you through Twitter I can see the example you set… it is one that catches on. Thanks! Jon
Jon, I think about legacy a lot too. I want my life to have mattered, to have made a difference, to live on.
When I think about that, it means thinking more often of others in everything I do. Putting myself and my own interests aside to focus on others and their needs. Serving.
I think legacy can live on that way, because I will have used my strengths to help strengthen others. They, too, will have made me better.
I believe these things will not only live past me…but they will make the world better today too!
Sounds like a servant leader approach, which is a great way to lead and live life. It is about having the right mix of living in the present – making “the world better today” – and much of that may stand going forward. Thanks, Erin! Really enjoyed your “circle” post, too! Jon
Excellent points you make here, Jon!
I have often thought about this myself. It has lead me to wonder and pose this question to myself, “What am I doing right now that will be my legacy left behind after I’m no longer here?” That’s what it’s all about when we get right down to the nitty gritty of it all. Isn’t it? Leaving a legacy, as Peter mentioned.Will something we’ve done be remembered as being something that mattered to someone else? Not necessarily by the masses; although that too would be awesome. I’m more so talking about, as I think you are as well in this post, someone somehow connected to us in the future discovering something we’ve done that impacts their lives in either a minute or great way. If we truly understand that we are quite replaceable in society, we can then put more effort into areas of our lives that generate a lasting presence on our world and even society as a whole. This is one of the main reasons I love being a writer. Words are yet another entity that stands when we’re gone. And once words are applied to paper, publications, websites, etc; I believe that they will stand the test of time and maybe not leave a legacy of greatness, but they would have left a legacy nonetheless.
Totally agree, Deeone. It is about making that connection to someone who pulls something forward from what we have done or said. I don’t think it is really ego, but it may be. I do think it is about doing something that grabs ahold of someone and a little of what we have done lives on, lives forward. I really enjoyed your comments and insights on this topic. Thank you! Jon
Jon, interesting article. I guess we all want to leave a legacy behind! I am fortunate to work with an excellent team but I really doubt that we will leave a legacy to speak of! I decided a few years back that social responsibility is just as important as corporate success. I joined the Rotary organisation as my way of giving something back. I may never leave a real legacy but I am happy in my heart that I made the attempt!
Excellent points, Peter! It sounds like you will be leaving a real legacy. Living with a happy heart is a good sign. Thank you for joining the conversation. Jon