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What Will be Your Legacy?

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Tate Grogan
  • 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron flight commander
"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave" - Native American proverb

People are the only things that live on after you are gone. Not your money, not your brilliant ideas, not your inventions, and not changes you made to anything. Nothing lives on, except the people who you will, in one way or another, leave behind. With those people, you will leave your legacy.

With that being said, the most important thing we must all keep in mind is the impression we leave on others. What did you do to teach somebody else? What did you do to better them? This is essential to consider in leadership- personally and professionally. It does not take a mom, a dad, a colonel, or a chief to make a difference. Anyone can make a lasting impact on another person. However, this impact is not physical and it is not materialistic. The biggest, most strikingly important impact you will ever leave is on the minds of other people.

The question is: how do we leave our legacy? How do we know what it even is? If you ask somebody what legacy they will leave, I bet seven out of ten times you'll get looked at like you have three eyes. I suspect that's because people rarely like to think about or describe themselves. It can be a scary thing when you sit back and analyze who you really are. It is a very personal process to analyze oneself. It is also a very personal process in determining what your legacy will be. That even seems harder than describing what you currently are, because your legacy is more about what you will be remembered as tomorrow. You have to examine your goals in life to see where you are going, and who you want to become as a person. Set your priorities to achieve those goals. Your actions and efforts to become who you want to be will define the legacy which you instill in others.

Think back in your personal life. Who do you remember in your childhood that left a lasting impact on you? I guarantee there was a family member, a teacher, a friend, or somebody who changed your life, for better or for worse. Many people did things which guided you to where you stand today. Now look back at your career. You may not have understood everything that was done when you were a young airman or officer. You probably did not agree with or like every decision your boss made. It's entertaining to hear higher-ranking people tell stories of their younger days, about how much they disliked so and so, but that now they wish they could thank the same person because of those actions and the lasting legacy he or she left.

Someday you will be this person in another's life. You will be the subject of their story. Your legacy will live on.