Don’t Just Leave a Legacy, Live Your Legacy

We all spend a lot of time thinking about and dealing with how the world impacts us. But right now, I want you to think about things from another, critically important perspective: What is the impact of your existence on the world? What are you trying to contribute, today–right now–to your family, your community, your nation, humanity as a whole? When all is said and done, what difference will you have made?

These are questions of legacy. Now, as you might expect, the Black Enterprise Wealth for Life mission usually addresses this subject with a business and financial focus, with the goal of establishing and advancing legacies of multigenerational wealth among African Americans. Certainly, this is borne out by the content you’ll find at, on our Black Enterprise Business Report and Our World with Black Enterprise television programs, at Black Enterprise events, on the Black Enterprise app for the iPad, and of course,  in Black Enterprise magazine. In fact, you’ll find plenty of information and resources in this, our Annual Money Management issue, to equip you to create a financial legacy for yourself and for future generations.

However, there is far more to choosing to create a legacy than investment portfolios and business ventures. It’s not a choice made at some future time in your life, but in the present. In fact, it’s a choice you make, whether you’re aware of it or not, with every decision, every day. We are all born change agents, whether for better or for worse. We each have the power to make a difference, and it is critical–and of particular importance to the continued progress of African Americans–that we each exercise our share of that power.

Now, just how do you do that? First, you must truly believe that you matter, that you are important, and that there is difference-making power associated with your existence. Second, you must hold yourself accountable for the use of that power, not only on your own behalf, but to make a purposeful, positive impact on others. That means a commitment to preparation and the pursuit of excellence. As I said in this column in last month’s issue mediocrity won’t cut it. Your best won’t always be enough, but to knowingly allow yourself to deliver less than your best must be unacceptable to you.

Finally, you must act. Legacy builders don’t just dream, ponder, plan, or wish–they do. They show up and follow through with character and integrity. That means organizing and prioritizing your time, talent, and resources, and marshalling them on behalf of the people (including yourself), causes, and institutions you believe in. Smart, purposeful, and ethical management and investment of resources, both your own and those entrusted to you by others, is critical to legacy building and a fundamental principle of the Black Enterprise Wealth for Life creed.

Tomorrow’s legacies are created by today’s choices. I challenge you not to just leave a legacy, but to live your legacy. Our mission at Black Enterprise is and will always be to provide the information and inspiration necessary to empower you to make better choices and to live a better life. Whether or not you choose to use that power, and how you use it, is up to you. Choose well–it could make all the difference in the world.