Given how frequently we talk about legacy with our clients, it makes sense for us to have a clear idea of how we see our own legacy.
I recently sat down to discern some of my own thoughts on the matter.
What Is Your Legacy?
What comes to mind when you hear the word legacy?
For me, I think of no longer being on this earth and what I will leave behind. I think, “What impact did I have?” and “How will my friends and family and community remember me?”
I guess the way I'm looking at it now is what am I working toward? What are the types of things that I'm doing now that are going to have an impact down the line? I'm trying to stay away from simply announcing things that I'm going to do. Instead, I’m thinking of this moment in time: how I'm going to act and show who I am, most importantly to my family.
For me, my definition of legacy boils down to doing good by other people and the community.
Building a Legacy in the Workplace
The legacy of our work as financial advisors is that relieved look on a person’s face as they’re about to retire and they say thank you. They appreciate the advice that we gave them over the 15-plus years of working together to live their financial future at whatever level they can. Yes, they're paying us to give them advice, but I think a big part of our legacy is when people say, “Wow, they really helped us.”
The other part of our legacy on a business level is that we're giving more than 30 people the opportunity every single day to have a successful career. We have people we are grooming to grow the business or to further their careers. I would hope that they look back and say that it was a great experience.
The legacy for me in the workplace is both the clients that we impact, as well as our employees.
Building a Legacy in Your Household
When I think about my legacy in my household, the first thing that comes to mind is my own kids, and how I would like them to remember me. We often talk about that trickle-down effect, so really, I'm trying to make sure that my kids see me doing and living a life that they can emulate at some point in the future. Then, hopefully, they will start living that way, too.
Legacy doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be something as simple as not being mean to people. I try not to flip out over anything small (even though that doesn't always happen, but I try). I just try to be aware of that. Growing up in a home in which faith was important, what I took away from that environment was to live my life in a way that treats other people well and helps others.
Building a Legacy in Your Community
It’s easy to answer this as though it were a financial question, but it’s obviously deeper than that.
I'm leaving three kids to continue what my wife, Crista, and I have started in this world. I think that's my biggest contribution. We've left another generation of Bodes that have the mindset of being good people and helping others.
Financially speaking, when I think of what's the biggest impact we have made so far, I think of what our money is doing for other people. Crista and I try to practice random acts of kindness; it’s fun for us to do that. However, we do it privately and we don’t talk about it. My sister, Faith, plays that game with us.
I'm not going to divulge everything that I do for the community, but let me just say that I am actively giving my time and energy in a way that's going to benefit others in a positive way — whether on a personal level, coaching people at work, or helping to raise funds for a non-profit.
It makes me feel better to give. Is it selfish or selfless? Both, I think. But if it has a positive impact, it doesn’t really matter.
Be Intentional About Building a Legacy
I believe that my legacy is the result of deliberate, intentional acts. It must be thoughtful. Everything that you do is going to have an impact, whether it's good or bad. So planning your legacy, thinking about it, being intentional, being purposeful about what you’re doing every day — that’s important. Either way, you are building a legacy, whether you mean to or not.
You must be intentional, so you can leave the legacy you wish to leave. I’m curious what you consider to be your legacy. Feel free to share with us!
James Bode is Managing Partner at Beck Bode, a deliberately different wealth management firm with a unique view on investing, business, and life.