We move along day to day – but do we make sure every action helps us build a collage of who we are? And when it comes to defining ourselves, what words do we choose? I chose “journalist” – though even this definition changes daily to me. So maybe a better definition to find is by answering just this:
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as the person who was never too busy to lend a hand, or answer e-mails. I want to be the person who lived for others, and was deeply inspired by others.
The person who told a good story because she was listening closely enough and watching the world with open eyes.
I want to be remembered as a visionary – and I don’t think that’s too bold to say. I think that if I say it now, while I’m still 23, I have time to make it happen.
I think the way this can be done is by being self-critical and critical of the world around you. Not negative, just critical. See what you aren’t seeing. Teach yourself each day to do this a little more – with every article you read, with everything you think you like or admire or agree with – ask yourself why.
I wrote a paper a while back on how we’re all obsessed with legacy – legacy through fame, fortune. For academics and journalists, it’s the paper and ideas we leave behind. For artists, it’s the music and paintings. For parents, it’s their children and families that pass on the family name, the life blood, and the family morals. We’re all obsessed on what we’ll leave behind.
Okay, I admit — I saw Steve Jobs movie this weekend, so the legacy of Apple is engrained in my mind. But Steve Jobs isn’t the only one who woke up wanting to be great. And some strive for greatness with every bone in their bodies, like Jobs had. Others might gain it more easily.
But why is it that we strive for greatness? Why can’t we settle for leaving the world no worse than when we stepped foot. Because really, none of us are anything special.*
“If everyone is special then no one is… There can be only one best, you’re it or you’re not.” — David McCullough
People point fingers at Millenials for being too single-minded, but the problem of legacy is a timeless one that goes far beyond our generation.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
We’re not just trying to find out how to leave our mark, but where our place is. My favorite thing about reporting on entrepreneurs is just this — so many of them are career switchers. Yes, entrepreneurs have been around for generations, but there’s something about this one that has a deep desire to create something that’s their own. To leave something behind. People are leaving jobs, especially in finance – as analysts and consultants – to make something. Many don’t even know what that something is yet.
“Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in… Dream big, work hard. Think for yourself.” – McCullough
I’ve chosen my legacy in the form of a journalist, but I learn each day through the people I meet each day, through every interview and interaction – it’s more about the person you are than the things you leave behind.
So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
~ Steve Jobs
*David McCullough’s graduation speech: “You’re Not Special” -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lfxYhtf8o4&noredirect=1