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Saturday Bike Rides with Bob: More on "Personal Legacies"

Posted by Joe Antle on July 19, 2021 8:35 AM EDT
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On our most recent bike ride, Bob and I continued our discussion on the impact of "personal legacy" on wellbeing and what...

...were attributes of it in the context of best practices and actions that people can take to strengthen their legacies and have those provide them a better sense of wellbeing-physical, emotional, spiritual, and a life well-lived upon its conclusion.

I began the discussion by saying that I was surprised when I did some cursory research on the meaning of the word "legacy" that many of the various sources I looked into defined the word "legacy" consistently the same. In fact, a few were noteworthy sources and they lead their definitions with "legacy" meaning either one or all of three things:  leaving behind something of substantial material value such as money or jewelry or property; a technology angle based on useful technology that must continue to be in place but whose usefulness is limited more than in the past, and potential memberships in private or professional organizations or acceptance to colleges or clubs where the person is being accepted based upon their relationship with a parent, close friend or family member who had passed on and had left the "legacy" for that person.

I told Bob that when I discovered the notion of "personal legacy" that the insertion of the word "personal" opened up what to me were more relevant definitions based on how he and I had discussed the term in our prior bike ride discussion.  In this context, a personal legacy was much richer and more relevant as a way of describing how one might lead their lives and be remembered for great contributions to the betterment of others and perhaps in so doing, influence the way others might lead their lives in the betterment of still others....(sort of the idea of "pay it forward").

Bob agreed and when I asked him if he had thought about what might be best practices, he said that he had a little bit.  In fact, he said that to him the focus of living a life of purpose in effect creates a personal legacy.  He said that he feels that words like legacy, wellbeing, and influence are really byproducts of a purpose-filled life.  In addition, he recalled his statement of the focus for his pre-retirement and post-retirement years has been the acronym "LIVE", with the V (Volunteering) and the I (impact through knowledge sharing) as the leverage point he would use and advocate others use if building a purposeful life and one that leaves behind a personal legacy.

Further, Bob shared a general quote that he had read that was often spoken by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist approach to Christianity.  Bot quickly disclaimed that the words he would share are the exact ones that Wesley said, but they were in effect an accurate depiction of the words that Wesley could have said and that he (Bob) feels that they are a good way to organize one's life, actions, focus and philosophies to impact personal legacy if that is important.

Bob said that the concept was this:

Do the most you can for other people, do that for as often as you can, for as many people as you can, for as long as you can; and do so in the best way you can without any expectation of material or significant recognition in the social sense.  This lead to Bob and me discussing the value of humility in leadership and as a way to truly amplify one's personal legacy.

I then asked Bob what he thought was the most important rule for one's daily activities, a term that is somewhat Biblical but is also one people use from time to time, not always in the context of their religious beliefs.  He shared a few passages that were excellent...but since the question I posed was mostly a kind of quiz, Bob asked me to share it.  To that end, I said that I thought John Wesley's words were reminiscent of "The Golden Rule" .  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  We also discussed what might be an even more valuable "metal" rule....to that end we agreed that perhaps The Platinum Rule" might be good.  The Platinum Rule might be this:  Do unto others as the others would have you do unto them.  This, of course, leads to the importance of really understanding what others want and need and that then suggested some thoughts about the value of purposeful service and support to others and understanding what "other-people-centricity" could bring to that.

By now, we had neared the time for our bike ride to finish.  Bob mentioned that he enjoys our discussions and finds them useful.  However, he also said that we (especially me) often frame a "point of view" from the perspective of the past, for example past experiences, past lessons learned, past readings, past people we once knew, past educational activities, and past social engagements.  He suggested that on our next bike ride we should focus our discussion on a forward-thinking approach.  Concentrate on discussing what are the things that can truly move wellbeing forward, and at scale and at a low cost that everyone likely can afford (in time,  money, ease or access). 

Bob also challenged me to lead that discussion and to try and frame it initially with a simple description, perhaps even a slogan.  I asked what he thought about this one:  "A Better Path to the Best Future".  He said that would be a good start and for me to prepare my thoughts with that framework as the foundation.

So, with that, we bid each other adieu and look forward to our next bike ride discussion in a few weeks.

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