Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Yet, it’s through what we say and do that impacts how we make others feel. Every day our presence, our involvement, and how we make our way through this world leaves a trace. What stays behind is our legacy.
Evidence Left Behind
As the dogs and I headed out for our morning walk, I noticed a thin trail through the wet grass next to the driveway that led to the other side of our house. A small animal had walked across the front yard earlier leaving a visible path of its steps. The creature was long gone by the time we got there but evidence of its presence remained.
When you and I are long gone, evidence of our presence will stay behind as well. Our body of work and those things we built will be reminders of the path we walked here on earth. But what truly matters most is the legacy we leave behind in the hearts and minds of others and the memories of how we made them feel.
A Lasting Impression
So, how do we ensure the legacy we leave is the one we’d hoped? I mean, when we get right down to it, you and I really have no control over how other people remember us. None whatsoever. How others interpret our interactions is entirely up to them.
But there are a few things we can do each day to stay mindful of how we’re living and the impact it has on others.
- We can live in such a way that we want to be remembered. By focusing on what’s really important, like building relationships, developing trust, and expressing our feelings, we get our priorities straight. And the trivial things are more likely to fall away from our concern.
- We can engage in more meaningful conversations. Our words, helpful or harmful, may echo through someone’s years. When we’re cognizant of this fact, we’re more likely to choose our expressions wisely. People remember the words we speak over them.
- We can focus on the present moment, not the past. The present moment is where we live and have impact. Once a day is finished, it’s behind us and we’ve lost the ability to alter it. Reflecting on the past and the lessons we’ve learned is helpful, but we shouldn’t dwell on what could have been. Focusing on where we’re at, who we’re with, and what’s important now makes all the difference.
According to a Dakota Indian Proverb, “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” Today is here. The steps we take and the trail we leave behind have significance. What lasting impression will you make today?