What do you want to be remembered for? How will your legacy live on after you’re gone?
You know the story: hustling hard, chasing dreams, and pushing for progress. But have you ever taken a moment to think about the legacy you’ll be leaving behind? Well, that’s what we’re diving into in this episode. I’m talking about how to create a legacy that will carry on your impact long after you’re gone.
Tune in as I walk you through the 9 practical ways to build a legacy that will give your life even more meaning and help you have impact long after you’re gone.
But listen: this isn’t just about finding out what boxes to tick off on your personal bucket list. It’s way more important than that.
This episode is your introspection toolkit; a guide you can revisit time and time again as you unearth what legacy truly means to you, all while staying true to the very essence of who you are.
So if you want to find out your answers to these questions, then sit back, hit play, and let’s find out.
If you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode or if you hear something that you like but don’t have time to write it down, be sure to grab your free copy of the Action Plan from this episode— as well as get access to action plans from EVERY episode— at JimHarshawJr.com/Action.
[00:00] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: How will your having been on this planet make a difference? How will things be better because you lived? Today, I'm going to give you 9 practical ways to build a legacy that will give your life even more meaning and help you have an impact long after you're gone - and what I'm going to share with you is not what you expect.
[00:20] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Welcome to another episode of Success through Failure, the show for successful people and for those who want to become successful. The only show that reveals the true nature of success. This is your host, Jim Harshaw Jr., and today we're talking about legacy. How do you build your legacy? Why talk about this topic on the Success through Failure podcast?
[00:42] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Well, because this is always in your unconscious mind. “How will I be remembered after I'm gone? What impact will my life have? How am I - having been on this planet - make a lasting difference?” These are some of the most important questions that we ask ourselves. And notice that the one thing that is at the core of the response - like if you're going to answer any of those questions I just asked you, what's at the core of all of those? It's people. This is about people. Even if you want your legacy to be having a building with your name on it at your alma mater, or a piece of land that you preserved, or an organization that you left in a better place, all of these are about people. So do not get caught in the trap of thinking that leaving a legacy - and a meaningful legacy and an impactful legacy - means building a world-changing company like Apple, or being rich and creating an endowment or having a building with your name on it. Don't get caught into that trap! And also don't get caught into the trap of thinking that you can't leave a meaningful legacy because you failed at, you know, fill in the blank: achieving your athletic goals at high school or college, or your financial goals, or your goal of completing a marathon, or whatever it is. Whatever failures you've had, that has no bearing on your legacy.
[02:04] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Think about the person in history who has the most lasting legacy. It's Jesus. Like whether or not you're a Christian, we can all likely agree on this, right? It doesn't matter what faith you are. This guy, he wasn't rich. Doesn't have any buildings with his name. At least he has buildings with his name on them now, but it's not like he donated enough money to have a building with his name on it. What did he do? He cared about people. This is about people. He loved people like no one else before, like nobody else since. Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Dalai Lama, what were they known for? They were known for love, not riches or entrepreneurship or their musical talents. And they're not remembered for their failures, right? Jesus never failed, but certainly Mother Teresa and Gandhi and the Dalai Lama and other people who you can think of who have left an amazing legacy, like they have failed. And that's okay. That's not what you remember about them. And so when you think about creating your legacy, it's okay that you've failed. It's okay that you've had setbacks. It might even be great that you've had setbacks. Those are just part of your journey and part of your story.
[03:16] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Quick interruption. If you like what you're hearing here and you want to learn how you can implement this into your life, just go to jimharshawjr.com/apply to see how you can get a free one on one coaching session with me. That's jimharshawjr.com/apply. Now back to the show.
[03:35] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So there are so many ways to leave a legacy, and many of them are just so much more meaningful than the things that we kind of traditionally think of: having your name on a building, or being rich and funding some nonprofit, or something like that. So a specific example in my own life is the legacy of my youth wrestling coach: Tom Barron. He's passed away about 15 years ago. You've never heard of Tom Barron, but … the impact of his legacy is absolutely incalculable. This guy volunteered his time to me and in hundreds of others, like young wrestlers, guys who were teammates of mine, kids who were teammates of mine when I was young, and he did this long after his own sons finished their wrestling careers. You know, my old teammates and I, when we get together, we reminisce about him. And I know that each of my old teammates, everybody who wrestled under coach Barron, thinks about him a lot more often than coach Barron would have ever guessed. And I always think about one specific moment in time when in my senior year in high school. He was my youth coach, not my middle school or high school coach, but he was my elementary coach and I was in high school as my senior year. It was the week before the state championships. And my dad took me over to coach Barron's house to watch some film. And I was cutting so much weight.
[04:50] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: I was so broken at this point. I had really struggled to make weight. I was cutting way too much weight. I just shouldn't have been trying to drop down a weight class. And I was encouraged by other people around me - not my parents - but other people around me kind of pushing me to cut weight and go drop a weight class. And Mr. Barron looked at me and he said, “Jim, it's okay. This is not the most important thing in your life. There are going to be other moments in your life. There are going to be other times in your life. This feels so big and so important, but it's okay. No matter how it goes - if it goes well, or if it doesn't go well this weekend at the state championships, your senior year - it's okay.” And like I get choked up thinking about it, choked up right now, just thinking about it, like that moment. I wanted to break down and cry, kind of like I feel like doing right now because he was like the one guy who understood me. Like in that moment, I was hurting. Emotionally, I was hurting.
[05:42] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: I was struggling physically. My body was broken and dehydrated. And he just took one look at my face, and he saw it, and he felt it, and he understood it. That is his legacy. Like this guy is in my heart for the rest of my life, you know, and he wasn't rich. I don't know what failures he had, but they're irrelevant in my eyes because of his love for me, because of his dedication to me in my life. And, you know, you could tell me anything about his failures. I don't know. I'll make some up. Maybe he was fired at his job. Maybe he didn't wake up every day and work out at 5 AM. Maybe he didn't read 30 minutes a day. Maybe he didn't strive for a leadership role or achieve some goal that he set. I don't care. Tell me all the failures you want. It doesn't matter. I don't care. His legacy is solidified in granite. And now his legacy is growing because I'm here talking to you about it. You're learning about this amazing guy. I think about the legacy that my wife is building at the school and with the students who she works with.
[06:47] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: She's a school counselor for elementary school, and she's absolutely amazing. And not because of her skill or her knowledge, which she has tons of it. She has a master's degree and she did an internship at Johns Hopkins, like a really prestigious internship. I mean, she just has tons of experience and knowledge and wisdom, but that's not what makes her great. What makes her great is her love and her understanding and her compassion that she shows for these kids. She could care less about being rich or having a building named after her, or - actually her picture was on the front page of the newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia, a few years ago, and she was mortified.
[07:27] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Like she doesn't want any of that, but it doesn't matter. Her legacy is solidified. Like because of her failures, despite her failure, it doesn't matter. Those don't even matter. Like those kids who she loves and loved her could care less about her success and her failure. It's about how much she loves them. And an example is there's a girl who had a horrific, horrific backstory, stuff that you only thought happened in like horror movies. You know, one parent killed another parent, saw her mother get murdered by her father and just had a horrible, horrible life. This happened over in another country and then she moved to the United States, and she has just a horrible home life, and my wife just loves on this girl and she moved away. She now lives out of out of state, but she still reaches out to my wife because she's like this amazing rock-solid human being who just loves her. And so, this is the foundation of legacy. I'm going to share with you nine ways to build your legacy, but I want you to understand that this is about people, okay? This isn't about you. This is about people, and impact, and service. Okay.
[08:41] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: So where do you start? Before I get into the 9 ways, let's talk about where do you start. How do you do this? Well, Stephen Covey in the book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, One of his habits is start with the end in mind. Define your legacy. Like what do you want it to be? And one of the exercises that we do with my clients and our coaching program and reveal your path is something we call the funeral exercise. I didn't invent this, but we tweaked it to fit and to really bring what we needed to bring out of our clients. But the funeral exercise is essentially this: what do you want people to say at your funeral? Like if you died today, what would you want people saying? And we go through a lot of sort of different iterations of this. What would you want your closest friends saying, or your closest colleague and different individuals, what would you want them to say? And what would they say now? Is there a Delta there? Is something different there? And if so, maybe there's room for aligning yourself more with who you want to be versus who you are and the way you are living in the world. And this helps us sort of zoom out from the day-to-day grind and tactical stuff that we're doing and checking off things on our to do list, to zooming out and saying, what is really important here?
[09:53] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: All right? And so that's what this exercise is all about is defining your legacy. Just hit the pause button and journal on that. Think about that, and just figure out: what is it that I want to be remembered for? And how can I go about doing things like that now? So that's what I'm going to give you. I'm going to give you 9 different ways to think about how you go about building and leaving your legacy.
[10:17] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Number 1: live with integrity. Live with integrity. Easier said than done. Do the next right thing. That's the hard thing. Sometimes there's a right and a wrong, but the wrong thing is maybe the easy thing. Do the right thing. Align your actions with your values. Integrity creates trust and respect from others. And it's so important in building your legacy, doing the right thing. I was in an interaction this morning where I learned about a CEO - No, it wasn't a client of ours or anybody. It was just a totally different company that's in Charlottesville that I heard about, with the CEO made a decision that it just told a little white lie, just a little white lie.
[11:03] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And it makes things a little bit easier for him and I understand why he did it, but it makes me just sort of at a foundational level kind of go, “I don't know if I trust that guy is quite as much”, right? I mean, doing the right thing, living with integrity is so, so critically important. Okay. So that's number 1. I'm not saying that's easy, but that's number 1.
[11:24] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Number 2, invest in relationships: meaningful connections with your family, with friends, with community. All of those things contribute to building a rich, lasting, meaningful legacy, nurturing relationships. You may have heard the story about the legendary UNC basketball coach, Dean Smith, after he passed away. All of his players, anybody who ever earned a varsity letter under coach Smith, received $200 for quote, a dinner out on him. $200. He sent them all $200. He had that left - that was in his will, that was in his estate plans is to send everybody $200. Anybody who ever lettered under him. I don't know the guy. I don't know much about him. I know he's a hall of fame coach. I know he won a lot of national championships and [coached] Michael Jordan at UNC. But I can only imagine what he was like to play for. I can only imagine that he invested in relationships. So that's number 2: invest in people, in relationships, not just your to-do list, not just being more efficient and more productive and, you know, getting the next promotion. Invest in people. That's where your legacy lies.
[12:41] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Okay. Number 3: pursue your passions with persistence. Sorry for all the Ps there. Pursue your passions with persistence. Align your legacy with what you love to do. What are you passionate about? Don't just choose something because that's what you think you're supposed to do with the outside world. Once you do like, what are you passionate about? Pursue those things - and maybe you don't exactly know how that's going to become your legacy, but pursue them. I think about Dread from F3 and … Dave Redding, Dread is his nickname and I interviewed him in episode 275. He's the founder of F3. If you've listened for any length of time to the podcast, you know that F3 is a men's fitness organization that I'm a part of. It's national. Actually, it's global. Now there are like 4,000+ workouts, free, all always free, always outside, open all-men workouts all over the world, mostly in the United States. But this guy in one other - OBT is his nickname. Tim Whitmire is his real name, but we all get nicknames in F3. But these guys founded this organization.
[13:47] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: They didn't know what they were founding. They were just pursuing something that they were passionate about. And that was working out and getting men together to do hard things in the morning. And it's turned into this underground movement where there are tens of thousands of men all across the country and all across the world working out in the wee hours of the morning, usually. And it's really a leadership organization. The mission is to plant, grow, and serve small workout groups for men, for the invigoration of male community leadership. This is something they were passionate about. They pursued it and created something absolutely incredible that is just taken off. You couldn't stop this freight train if you wanted to. So pursue your passions with persistence. All right. That was number 3.
[14:28] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Number 4: empower others. Share your wisdom, share your knowledge - whether it's through mentoring or coaching or community engagement, empower others. It magnifies your impact. I have a mentor; his name's Peter. I worked with him when I was working at the university of Virginia as a major gift fundraiser in the athletic department. And I grew up a blue-collar kid. I didn't know how to dress professionally or properly, man. This was my first real professional job where he had to show up with a tie on every day.
[15:02] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And I had these old beat-up shoes [that] were just not nice shoes. They were kind of like supposed to be look like dress shoes, but they were kind of like the cheapskate’s … didn't fit right. They were not nice dress shoes. And he told me a story about how you got to dress from the shoes up. It starts from the shoes up. And it took like two years for me to actually realize that he was talking about me, a slow learner, but that was something that he did. He wanted to have a conversation with me and plant a seed with me, share his knowledge, share his wisdom – and it finally, finally sprouted. Took a while and I'm like, Oh man, he was talking about me. And I went out immediately, bought a nice pair of shoes. And I'm like, “Oh my gosh, I look so much better. I look so much more professional.” And my image is just different. And it was a little piece of wisdom [that] solidifies his legacy to me as my mentor. And I'm actually going to have lunch with him here in about a week. I can't wait to have lunch with him. He's getting up there in age. I'm going to miss the guy. He's actually moving out of town. But man, the connections … he did all of these things. I mean, he pursued his passions. He invested in relationships. He lived with integrity, just a great guy who really has been a huge impact on my life. So that was number 4: empowering others.
[16:15] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Number 5: contribute to your community. Invest your time. Invest resources that you have, in causes that matter to you. Being involved in your community ensures that you are part of a legacy, that your legacy extends beyond just you and your life here and your own personal success. I can give you the example of F3 and Dave Redding and Tim Whitmire who started F3, but even right here in my neighborhood, right in my neighborhood, we have a neighbor who was in a terrible accident a few years ago. She's in a wheelchair now for life. And I have a couple of neighbors from just down the road who have done so much to support and love this family. They've gone and went as far as having a ramp built so that they could have them over and have them over for dinner. And she's, they've gone so far and done so much. Their legacy - not just with that family, but their legacy with me, and in my mind, and everybody else in our neighborhood - invest your time and resources into things that matter to you, into people. All right. So that's number 5, contribute to your community.
[17:24] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Number 6 is charitable donations. Put your money where your mouth is. I have a friend who, when I was working at the Virginia Athletics Foundation, he left a million dollars to University of Virginia wrestling. And in the end, whenever he passes away, this is in his will. It's in his estate plans. There will be a scholarship in his name. And yeah, sure: it has his name on it. But the bigger legacy here is really the fact that he's going to support other young people in having a life-changing experience by competing in athletics in college. It's going to be possible for people because of him. And I was an Olympic sport athlete in college; not football, not basketball. All the other sports are considered non-revenue sports essentially. And that was a life-changing experience for me. When people think of college athletics, they think of the minuscule fraction of college athletes who actually go on to play in the pros and make money. Most of the college athletes were like me.
[18:21] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: They didn't earn a dime for the school, but they had been impacted so tremendously much. And that's me, that's been my experience. So put your money where your mouth is. And my goal initially, it was to pay back all the scholarship money that I received in today's dollars. But my new goal is to actually endow a wrestling scholarship at the University of Virginia before I die. Charitable donations. Listen, maybe that's a hundred dollars for you to whatever cause it is that is important to you. Okay. So whatever that dollar amount is, it's going to be different for everybody. So that's number 6: charitable donations, right? And that charitable donation could be the $200 “go out to dinner, have a dinner on me” that Dean Smith left for his former student athletes, right? It doesn't have to be a million dollars or some absurd number. All right? That's number 6.
[19:10] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Number 7: sentimental objects, like leaving sentimental objects. For me personally; whenever my father passes away, I'm going to get his gun cabinet. He built a gun cabinet for his hunting rifles. He built this when he was in high school. It's a beautiful piece of furniture. And this is an heirloom and it's this sentimental object that I'm going to be able to have in forever, look at and say, “My dad built that with his own two hands.” And I'll be able to think of my dad every time I look at that and I'm going to pass it down to one of my kids, like sentimental objects. That's another thing to leave your legacy. And hopefully that remembrance of that thing that you leave is these great memories of things accomplished. My son and I, when we finished our 48-mile hike - which I recorded an episode just a couple of episodes back - about that adventure at the end of the hike, we both picked up a stone off the trail.
[20:05] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: And we said, this is going to be a sentimental object that we're going to keep and always know that this is. We accomplished this goal. And at the end of the hike, at the end of the 48 miles, we both picked up a rock and those are going to be an object that will be a legacy that we'll always, always be able to remember that something that we did together. Okay. So that's number 7.
[20:23] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Number 8: document your journey. Listen, whether it's through writing or videos or any other means, leave a tangible story and evidence of your legacy of your journey. And this can inspire others long after you're gone. Gosh, I wish I had a video recording or audio recording or story about my grandmother and my grandfather on my dad's side. And I never got to know them, but I would have loved, I would love to have learned about them. You know, really have them left a stronger legacy. But it's so easy to do these days now, to capture video and to capture audio and have that transferred into a transcript, or you can just dictate and have it dictated into a Google doc.
[21:08] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: I mean, it's so easy to do these days. A lot of times I will actually, when my mom and dad or my mother-in-law or father-in-law are speaking, I will like hit the record button on my phone and record a voice memo of them telling a story. And I always tell them when I'm, when they're done, I'm saying, “Listen. I just recorded that, and we get to keep that.” These are stories that I get to keep forever. And my kids are going to hear those when they're grown up and my grandkids and on and on. Document your journey to leave your legacy. All right. I've given you 8.
[21:37] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Here's the last one. Listen, this is the most important. I want you to get this. And this really struck me a few days ago when I watched a video by Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran's one of the biggest musicians, artists in the world right now. Ed Sheeran talks about being a weird kid. All right? And then he talks about developing a stutter. And he said this: he said, “Even if you have quirks in weirdness, you shouldn't be worried about that. Just be yourself because there's no one in the world that can be a better you.” Number 9 is to be yourself. I know you've heard that since you were a kid, right? Come on, Jim. I wanted like something amazing for number 9. Like, listen: this is it. This is your legacy. There's no one else like you. Don't try to be Elon Musk. Don't try to be Taylor Swift or the cool guy at work or the beautiful woman down the hall who all the guys love to stare at it. We're like, be you. That is your legacy. Be yourself. Bring that to the world, fully bring yourself to the world and you will leave a strong, meaningful legacy.
[22:46] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Okay. I'm going to go through these real quickly again. Number 1: live with integrity. Number 2: invest in relationships. Number 3: pursue your passions with persistence. Number 4: empower others. This is about others. Number 5: contribute to your community. Number 6: make charitable donations to organizations you care about. Number 7: leaving sentimental objects. Number 8: document your journey. Number 9: be yourself. And no, number 10 is not put your name on a building. Those things don't matter.
[23:20] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: What matters are people; investing in people. That's where your legacy is built. Just like my wife's is being built right now. Just like my coach, Tom Barron's [legacy], has been built decades and decades ago. Think about that as you go through your day. Hit the pause button, figure out how you're going to leave your legacy, and start building your legacy today. Good luck. Take action.
[23:46] Jim Harshaw, Jr.: Thanks for listening. If you want to apply these principles into your life, let's talk. You can see the limited spaces that are open on my calendar at jimharshawjr.com/apply where you can sign up for a free one time coaching call directly with me. And don't forget to grab your action plan; just go to jimharshawjr.com/action. And lastly, iTunes tends to suggest podcasts with more ratings and reviews more often. You would totally make my day. If you give me a rating and review, those go a long way in helping me grow the podcast audience. Just open up your podcast app. If you have an iPhone, do a search for Success through Failure, select it, and then scroll the whole way to the bottom where you can leave the podcast, a rating and a review. Now I hope this isn't just another podcast episode for you. I hope you take action on what you learned here today. Good luck and thanks for listening.
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