Your life matters. You have a special mission to accomplish before you depart – maybe several. What are those? What will be your greatest accomplishment?
Recent deaths remind us of the accomplishments and legacies the famous left behind: Steve Jobs’ enormous impact on technology and entertainment, even our everyday lives; Whitney Houston’s delightful voice; Andy Rooney’s many years of informing us; or Elizabeth Taylor’s lifetime of entertaining us.
What is a great accomplishment?
There is no one answer to what is a great accomplishment.
Walking, for one person is a natural and easy act, but for someone overcoming great hardship to walk again, it can be a great accomplishment. Superman (Christopher Reeves) tried many things to walk again after his horseback riding fall made him a quadraplegic. His struggles resulted in many advances in the treatments available to quadraplegics – due to his activism and foundation.
Overcoming a great difficulty; setting and meeting a personal goal; inspiring others to action or thought; caring for our earth each and every day; bearing and raising the next generation to carry the human torch forward; saving a life; creating a great work of art; moving out of the ghetto; carrying the family business forward after the founder’s death – any and all of these could be a great accomplishment.
How does a great accomplishment come about?
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” Anatole France – winner Nobel prize for literature.
I don’t know that most would consider my accomplishments any greater than the next girls, but here is how I think great accomplishments can happen:
- Live a purposeful life – define what you want your legacy to be and take actions towards it.
- Live with integrity – be (act, speak, think) what you believe.
- Be whole unto yourself – don’t depend on someone else for your accomplishments and don’t let anyone else tell you what they should be.
- Live now – don’t wait until some magic event happens.
- Keep looking forward – your greatest accomplishment is probably yet to be.
How will you recognize your greatest accomplishment?
Sometimes it is difficult to say what your best accomplishment was, what your legacy is. After all, you have done a lot of things, and will do still more in the future.
Start by listing the things you have done. Then note the ones you feel best about doing. Add to those the list of things for which others have recognized you. Think about what the impact of each listed item is or will be. Think about what it is that you think is important (maybe even things you haven’t done yet). Then YOU decide.
It’s not easy. There are many things for which I’d like to be remembered – if I die in the next 5 minutes, here are several:
- Successfully raising two independent and responsible offspring.
- Leading teams to success at work and developing new leaders.
- Inspiring others with my writing.
- Being the founder of the family’s long term wealth plan – a plan to ensure that the family legacy and wealth are passed forward and used to the good.
Of course, if I were to live another 30 years, other accomplishments could supplant these or be added to them.
Why define your greatest accomplishment?
One reason to discover your greatest accomplishment, at least at work, is that most future job interviews will include the question – tell me about your greatest accomplishment at xyz job.
Aside from that practical matter, defining what you think your greatest accomplishment has been may spur your efforts towards setting a goal to have a different greatest accomplishment. It can help you dream and believe so you can plan and act.
Will others remember what you accomplished?
Many of us lead quiet lives, but we all have accomplishments. If you want your co-workers, family members, or future generations to know about your accomplishments, take steps to weave them into the story. Tell your story.
My aunt wrote her own obituary – writing in the accomplishments of which she was most proud. Several family members wrote autobiographies, to let future family members know pertinent facts about themselves. Many people research family history and then weave their own story into the greater family story.
Some publicize their stories via print, online or visual media. Sam Walton allowed a biography. Warren Buffett gives press interviews, my son has his own web site and many put their stories on social media sites such as Facebook.
At work, you can update your corporate documentation with your part in the project or event, get your name in the newsletter or put something out on the company wiki.
What will be your greatest accomplishment? I like to believe that mine is yet to come.
Marie blogs at Family Money Values and wants to help families understand the potential consequences of wealth. She encourages visitors to take the long view and pull all family generations together to nourish the family legacy and wealth.