However you look at it, 2020 has been a tough year. As the year draws to a close and we have the benefit of hindsight (and the freedom perhaps from the tyranny of the urgent that prevents us from doing this in the midst of it all) we can appreciate both the challenges we faced, but also the achievements we made.
So how will you remember 2020? Or perhaps, more significantly, how will others remember you and the things you did to inspire, encourage and lead them through this time? What is the legacy you will leave for this year?
“Legacy” is a powerful word and aspiration. It’s a combination of a big-picture vision, and what, exactly, our small steps today are adding up to. It’s easy to simply think of legacy in terms of the money or property we’re going to leave to family and friends once we’re dead, but it actually refers to anything we pass on or leave for others including intangibles like values, beliefs, or attitudes.
For those of us who work in education, it’s those decisions we made along the way – often in the face of uncertainty and without the benefit of a ‘rule book’ to follow – that will have made an impact on those we were working with, and will likely set the expectations for what to experience into the future. This includes both what we did and how we did it.
The legacy we leave might eventually add up to something extraordinary, but it will be built from the smallest blocks. The decisions made in a moment of crisis, the encouraging word to a student, colleague or parent, the pivoting of action to reflect the change in circumstance. And all of this done with a conviction of ‘making a difference’.
For most of us we’d like to leave a legacy because we want to feel that our life mattered. Further, legacies are strongly linked to hope (and who doesn’t need more hope right now?!). Hope is the belief that the future will be better than today, and when you build your legacy, you’re actively building that better future.
So as we come to the end of 2020, take some time to reflect on those things that may be considered your legacy – and then think forward to what you’d like your legacy to be in the year ahead. How do you plan to bring hope to the context you’re working in, and to the lives you work with?
When you decide what you want your legacy to be, you can start building it. You can start living in the way you want to be remembered. It will allow you to start doing what matters, now.
Take some time over this holiday period to decide what you want your legacy to be.