Leaving Behind A Legacy For The World To Remember

Legacy

by Peer Lawther (Flickr)

If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature.
~Bruce Barton

When Steve Jobs spoke about putting a dent in the universe, he wanted to inspire people to do something great. To do things that would change the world around them. And, there are two kinds of people who want such a change. Those who want the world to be better for themselves; and those who want the world to be better for everybody. But, most of the people lie towards the center of this scale. Balancing the selfishness with the selflessness within ourselves. And, in maintaining that balance, we have a choice. To be significant or to contribute beyond ourselves.

Striving to be worthy

It is a natural for people to seek significance. Even though we live in complex social settings (or perhaps, because we do) the need to be seen as unique, as an individual, is present in all of us. It is the reason why everybody wants to be rich or famous, or both. And, it is not individuality unless it is acknowledged by others. This need for recognition manifests itself in our everyday behavior  Have you ever had the experience of someone correcting you when you were speaking in a group, or perhaps done it yourself? In conversations, we always put an emphasis on voicing our opinion and experience. And, the failure to be noticed or acknowledged by others always leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The feeling that we matter less than others does not sit well with us. So, we strive to be worthy.

On the other hand, there are people like Steve Jobs and Seth Godin. When they talk, people listen. When a new Eminem or Shakira video is uploaded to YouTube,  it gets millions of views. When George RR Martin and JK Rowling launch books, people line up outside bookstores to buy them. These people are icons in our society, shining examples of success. We are drawn to them and their uniqueness. They are significance personified. And, I believe there’s a reason for this. These people place an emphasis on contribution over significance. They choose to share and serve. In return, they are acknowledged by others for their contribution. Like us, they started out as regular people. But, unlike us, they chose to fulfill their need for significance by contributing to the world.

Giving your gift to the world

It is a choice that is open to us as well. It might be a simple choice, but it is a tough decision. The simplicity is that all you have to do is be and express yourself. Whether it is through the conventional creative medium of art, music, or poetry. Whether it is through the application of your creativity as an entrepreneur to find and resolve problems that people have. Whether it is by being creative to form superb relationships with different kinds of people, bringing them together, and working as team in an organization. Creativity is an expression of your true self. What you are beneath all the layers of social dogma. It is what your souls is, the one that wants to do good. To contribute, you must make the decision to set your soul free.

A decision though, that is not easy to live with. Freedom is not gained as easily as flicking a switch. Contribution is not easily acknowledged. It is a path full of disappointment, failures, and rejections. Loneliness and fear are constant companions. To seek freedom you will have to defy social norms, put on your wings of wax and fly close to the sun. You will get beaten down, but you have to get back up every time if you want to let your soul fly free. As the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Expressing your true self, helping others, making their lives better, and doing it because it is its own reward. That is what contribution is. You can choose to be significant in a world full of people trying to do the same. Or, you can choose to make the lives of others significant. The journey begins by wanting to make a dent in the universe. But, it is paved by making a difference one small step at a time. Help someone today by listening to their problems. or surprise someone by sketching their portrait. Give of yourself, as a gift. Do it again tomorrow. And again, the day after that. A few years down the line, when you look back, you will find that you have left behind a legacy. Isn’t that what you truly desire? To leave behind a legacy, of having changed the world for better.
What is the legacy you dream of leaving behind?

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How to Deal with Disappointment, on the Path to Freedom

Ripples

Ripples, by Phillie Casablanca

The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.
~ Robert Kiyosaki

The only way to completely avoid disappointment is to stay within your limits and never try anything new. But, that’s not an option for people who want to defy the status quo and find freedom. We dream big and take action to make them come true. But, often the results of our action may not be what we expect. Failures are part of the process of finding freedom. To persevere on this path is also to accept disappointment as part of life and move on to what needs to be done to keep going forward. I believe there is a way to deal with disappointment that I have learned on my own journey.

Last Friday, I bought a domain name and web hosting service. It was my first time and I was very excited. I had always been putting it off because of the fear that things might not work out. So, this was a big step for me and a commitment towards creating my own freedom in life. I expected that I would just sign up, pay, and the website would be up in a few minutes, and had even written a great blog post to flag off my new website. Sadly, that did not happen. I read online that sometimes it takes as long as 48 hours to complete the process. Four days of having done all I could have, I have come to terms with the disappointment of not having a website of my own.

What surprises me though is my reaction. I have been unusually calm about it. The old me would have been bitching about it on social media and sending hate mail to the support team (Ok, I’m exaggerating, but not by much). Come to think of it, when most people try something new (which is uncomfortable and scary) and it does not work out the way they thought it would, they retaliate with anger and frustration. The truth is, experimentation and failure go hand in hand. And, people who are walking the path to freedom like freelancers, entrepreneurs, hustlers; they face disappointment regularly. In fact, I would say that most people give up on their dreams of freedom after getting burned by such experiences. Those who succeed are the ones who persevere on this path, and move on despite the disappointment.

Disappointment: Cause and Solution

Disappointment comes from the desire to control outcomes that we have absolutely no control over. You can’t control if McDonald’s runs out of the burger you want. You can do nothing about the rain on the day you had planned to go out. And, if your computer does not boot up, there is no point in hitting the start button repeatedly in frustration (you have my permission to go completely nuts if this happens though). But, whatever happens, you have a choice. You can keep grumbling about it or you can decide what to do next.

It is best explained in a concept by Stephen Covey (in the book Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People). The circle of influence and the circle of concern. It says that every event or decision in our life falls within either of the two circles. Those within the circle of influence are completely within our control. Like writing a blog post. And, those within the circle of concern are things that we worry about. Like worrying about how many people will like the blog post or will comment on it. For most of us, the circle of influence is far smaller than the circle of concern. This leads to a lot of unhappiness and disappointment in life. Our aim then, should be to expand our circle of influence and shrink our circle of concern, as much as possible. If it is not within our power to influence, there’s no point being concerned about it.

Lessons learnt from blogging

The path I have been on has taught me to accept disappointment. But, I have also learned how to let it go and take action to keep moving forward. One thing that has helped me deal with disappointment has been writing regularly for my blog. It has helped me to to build the habit of putting my thoughts in public domain, in spite of the fear of what other people would say. So, when one of my posts is completely ignored, I just stop worrying about it and move on to writing the next one. I know that I do my best when writing, but getting people to like or comment on my post is not within my power directly. The only thing I can do is to make sure that my next post is better. I have gotten used to the discomfort of disappointment. Seeing that the world does not come crashing down on my head, if things don’t go the way I want them to, has helped me develop a certain mindset. I focus on the things that I can do, plan what has to be done in the worst case scenario, and move on to the next thing that has to be done.

So, now that I am done with worrying about my website not being online, it is time to move on to what I can do. The web hosting service I used (Hostagator) offers a 45 day money back policy. So, I will wait a couple of days more, and if things don’t get resolved by then I will email them about it. If it’s still unresolved after another week, I’ll ask for a refund. I’ll still have ownership of the domain name though, so I’ll pick another web hosting service. Meanwhile, I keep writing for my blog.

So, if you have been ever been disappointed by trying something new, and have stopped experimenting as a result; stopped pursuing your dreams and your freedom, remember this. You are still alive, and tomorrow is a new day. What you have not been able to do till now does not matter. What matters is what you will do tomorrow.
So, what will you do tomorrow, that you haven’t done before? It would be awesome to read your answer in the comments below.