Living Your Legacy…Now
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain
I’m Not Dead Yet (I Think?)
Imagine waking up to a newspaper (remember those?) with your obituary in full print.
In 1888, Alfred Nobel – yes that Nobel – had that very experience.
You see, his brother Ludvig had died, but the newspaper erroneously ran the obituary about him, Alfred Nobel.
What you may not know about Mr. Peace Prize is that he spent his life doing precisely the opposite of making peace:
“The famed Swedish entrepreneur amassed his fortune by making such deadly delights as dynamite and ballistic.” (source: Brain Pickings).
Nobel, above all else was an inventor. He was the holder of 355 patents, including a life’s work on the study of explosives.
So when the obituary was run, here is what the paper had to say about Dr. Nobel:
“The Merchant of Death is Dead…Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
At the time of his death, he had established 90 armaments factories.
An Unintentional Awakening
While deserving of the title, going to the grave with “Merchant of Death” as your legacy might cause an awakening with respect to how you want to be remembered.
“Alfred Nobel, having the rare misfortune of witnessing his legacy while still alive, found himself heartbroken and determined to change his story before it was too late.” (also Brain Pickings)
So, on November 27th, 1895 (one year before his death), Nobel got to work on his last will and testament, hoping to reconfigure his legacy.
He asked his estate to be invested in a fund, “the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”
Thus, (love when I get to use that word) the Nobel Peace Prize was born.
It’s Never Too Late
Whether Nobel’s intentions were genuine or he was the beneficiary of the greatest PR turnaround of all-time is not the point.
The point is this:
It’s never too late (or too early) to start living your legacy.
Nobel forever changed his legacy from “Merchant of Death” to “Nobel Peace Prize” with a series of actions he instigated only 378 days before his passing.
I don’t encourage you to cut it that close.
Working on your legacy can be uncomfortable. Thinking about it means contemplating death, which is weird.
So look at it another way: A celebration of your life.
Designing your life with intentionality, including living the legacy you want to leave behind, can begin right now. (I speak to this in my book, Design Your Future, which is only weeks away from print…)
In fact, being clear about your future makes it so much easier to make meaningful decisions in the moment. Consider it like a GPS navigation system for your life.
Here’s an exercise on how to write your eulogy, with the intent of honing in on your legacy and bringing intentionality and clarity to your daily actions.
And if you missed it, here’s last week’s article on 7 ways to tell if you’re drifting in life. (Hint: if you say yes to 4+ of them, refer to aforementioned eulogy exercise).
Here’s to living your legacy, now.
Video of the Month: Are You Drifting?