Over 20,000 people turned out on this past Tuesday to honor Michael Jackson, the one and only “King of Pop.” In his lifetime, MJ sold over 750 million records, supported 39 charities, won 13 Grammys, and revolutionized the world of music. People are going to remember Michael Jackson forever because he left behind a legacy of all the amazing things he did in his lifetime.
Although most of us dont have MJs moonwalking skills or his collection of awards and honors, we all still have something unique to leave behind-our experiences and the lessons we have learned. Inevitably, after four, five or six years, all of us will “get out” of Tech. The question is if the valuable things that we have learned and the great things we have done will leave with us, or if they will be passed down.
This is a fundamental question that everyone should think about, especially in the context of student life and leadership. As both students and leaders we should have the posterity to think about not only the here and now, but also how we can leave a legacy for the future.
A legacy is not simply a litany of accomplishments; it is a conscious effort to manifest intentions into actions. The objective of leaving a legacy should not be solely for recognition or for validation. Rather, the most important defining aspect of a legacy is to leave behind a positive impact. It is essential to consider the ways that we can best make positive impacts that will continue on after we are gone. For example, philanthropy is a critical part of many student organizations that seek to give back to the community. Conducting a one-time service project is a great way to have a positive impact on the present, but establishing an ongoing program that continues to carry out service projects is a way to carry that impact into the future. While it is important for us to take initiative in the present, it is more important for us to empower others to continue our work in the future.
One important way to help pass on lessons learned is to conduct a proper transition. This is probably one of the most common mistakes that a student organization can make. Many student organizations have struggled because those in charge did not share any information, thereby making their successors repeat the same mistakes that they endured.
As busy Tech students, it becomes very easy for us to get caught up in the tasks at hand. It is a vital skill, however, to have the ability to think ahead about what the future holds. What legacy will we leave?