Part One: Legacy
Most people waste their life.
Waste it on feeding their fickle and fleeting emotions.
Waste it on chasing dreams without any real strategy or commitment.
Waste it by spending so much time appeasing the needs of others, they have no time left for themselves.
But, you know what that hunger is like… that need to feel good, to make the hurting go away?
You can see the bigger picture, but just don’t know how to make it your reality?
You do everything your told, be the best you can, keep going and still no luck?
You know how drained you feel when you encounter somebody whose behaviour is toxic?
You do all you can for others and they selfishly want more?
All these frustrations and challenges we face in life are usually down to a simple, yet surprising distraction… we are taught to focus on money as the vital currency for happiness, security, and the attainment of all we desire. Money is merely a distraction. It causes people place importance on something that is limited and for most, lacking.
When a person is focused on how little they have, they will often panic, act selfishly, try to fit into somebody else’s ideals, behave in toxic ways, or suffer readily at the hands of that toxic behaviour in others. To make ends meet financially, people waste their lives chasing a thing they may never have.
There is a secret currency that is the key to a rich and fulfilled life; a life where every moment counts. This currency is also limited, however, every single person has access to the same amount of this currency on a daily basis.
Truly successful people leverage this currency to find happiness, self-actualise their goals and create the life they actually want. This currency is time…
We all get the same amount of time—24 hours in a day—and it is how we use that 24 hours which decides whether we spend time or invest time.
Those who know the principles of investment are those who achieve more than most can imagine. Those who spend time on selfish behaviour, chasing transitory dreams or appeasing the selfishness of others will squander the rewards that time investment can bring.
In this series of articles, you will discover the how you can stop wasting your time by appreciating the tools of the secret currency. The first of these is the Art of Legacy.
The Art of Legacy
The psychologist Carl Jung theorised defined four stages to the human experience of life.
- The Athlete
- The Warrior
- The Statement
- The Spirit
The first of these experiences was very ego-driven; focusing on self-preservation, personal gain and having a what’s-in-it-for-me approach to each situation they encounter. This is our survival instinct—the aspect of the self that seeks what we need to survive in the world. Everybody experiences this necessary phase in their lifetime, and some people never move beyond it.
Here, our natural human instincts and hunger for survival are subverted to a quest for money, material things and the pleasure those rewards bring. Our selfish ego is stroked by taking from others and we are trained into the habit of feeling better about ourselves through the misfortune and loss of other people.
The second stage—which usually accompanies some overwhelming life-change, such as becoming a parent—shifts a person’s priorities towards a more altruistic approach. In this period of our lives we want to help those we care about, ensure they are successful in their endeavours and often value them more than ourselves.
As those who care for others will often minimise or neglect their own needs, they tend to spend more time with those who are ego-focused, rather than other people who live in the same stage of life as themselves. This is very necessary in the case of parent and young child, but in some instances can develop into an unhealthy or codependent relationship, where one person only gives and the other only takes.
In some cases, the altruist will become so drained from all that giving to others, they eventually turn their attention back to themselves and their own needs. This can happen after a major health scare, or simply because the individual cannot cope with neglecting themselves any longer.
This next stage of development returns a person’s focus to the self, but not in an egocentric way… they will usually focus on their own mortality, how fleeting life is and how little they have achieved with the time they have already had. They recognise the secret currency and how precious it is.
Here the focus is on a person’s own legacy—what they leave behind for others. Combining the greatest aspects within a sense of self and one’s own value, with the most profound caring for others, those in the legacy phase of living will put their attention and effort into developing something bigger than themselves.
For some it is a financial or philanthropic legacy, building a business that helps others, or writing a book. There are those who take up charitable volunteering or go on a spiritual quest. During this period of life, people devote themselves to others, but through a deep love and respect for their own uniqueness.
This leads them to the final stage of life; one of spirit and enlightenment. Here a person finds true happiness and contentment, despite and in spite of all the challenges we face. The world does what it does and people continue to take from others, hurt each other, face injustice and cruelty or strive for a result that never comes, but those in this stage are simply at peace with the way of things.
In this experience of life, people dedicate themselves to change, transformation and enlightenment for all, yet are never swayed by the horrors of the world—they simply take decisive action to help others transcend the horrors.
Here, death holds no fear and all those things most people spend their lives seeking are now unimportant in the light of true, lasting joy. Very few people ever reach this final stage, because the majority of people get stuck in the first two stage of life.
Legacy: The Currency of Time
In my own perspective, life is a little more complicated than these four isolated stages. They intermingle and overlap, contrast and conflict with other. A person can be selfish in one aspect of their life and truly giving in another.
However, the first two stages are where most tend to centre their lifetime. Creating a legacy takes a lot of effort and requires the investment of time; our most precious and lacking of resources. It is much easier simply functioning through the transaction of giving and taking than to truly create something lasting.
In my own lifetime, I have created many legacies that make a real impact on others—from the many therapies I have originated over the years (therapies that are now used by thousands across the world) to the various books I have written. I now help people to share their own messages through the writing and publication of their own books; each one a new legacy in itself.
On every occasion something lasting comes about in some way through my own efforts, it helps me find real meaning and happiness in my own life. I truly feel that I have made a profound impact on the lives of others and know that will continue far beyond the short experience of time I have.
The Ego Vs. Legacy Scale
Seeking happiness, contentment and real, lasting joy is something we can all achieve, and it begins with a behaviour that is much simpler than we might imagine. I call it the Ego vs. Legacy Scale.
The premise behind the scale is that both the ego and legacy phases of life are centred inwards, upon the self. The ego-driven perspective seeks to take from the world and others for personal gain; the legacy-view considers one’s own actions and how they benefit the world or other people.
Whenever you are compelled to take inwardly-motivated action in life, you can place that action on a scale that moves from ego to legacy. When the motivations are mainly egocentric, only you can benefit from the action. If the motivations are at the legacy end of the scale, many people benefit, including yourself.
For example, most office workers consider doing their job as their role in the company. They may help out their colleagues when needed, but the main task is to do what they are contracted to do. This is ego-driven on the scale.
A shift to the legacy side of the scale comes when an employee makes a conscious effort to acknowledge and use their special talents and unique knowledge to help the whole business succeed. They fulfil their own role, yet they do so in a way that considers the context of that role within the business:
A data-input clerk is not there to crunch numbers in some mindless way; they are employed to provide invaluable information that helps others make important decisions about the way the company is run.
A graphic designer who functions from ego will focus more on artistic integrity, whereas those who are motivated by legacy will seek to create an interaction with the company’s clients.
A salesperson shifts from just achieving their bonus to enabling the business to flourish so that all its employee and clients may benefit.
Selfish to Selfless—Knowing the Difference
Many new authors want to write a book to see their name in print, or for the thrill of finding their book in a local bookshop. They express what they will get out of being a published author and who they are as a writer. This is at the ego side of the scale.
For an author to adjust their perspective to the legacy end of the scale, they need to focus on what they have to offer people… what can they commit to the page that will have the greatest impact and deliver the maximum benefit to the reader?
A number of therapists I have encountered over the years are more concerned with how much more powerful their therapy is over others, than the way they are benefitting their clients. “I use this technique over that”, is ego-based, where “What is the best I can do for my client?” is legacy. When a therapist is intent on gaining power over a client, rather than empowering them, a major adjustment in scale is needed.
Even when we consider personal relationships, people tend to consider how I feel about you, instead of How can I achieve the most for us both? And, when it comes to national and international contexts, are people truly focused on what is best for all or what is best for me?
By striving with each action to develop legacy as an alternative to stroking ego, we not only inspire others, we create benefits for ourselves… the most profound of which is the happiness and lasting joy we attain when transitioning from legacy to spirit.
The broader our scope and the greater our commitment to shifting every aspect our life from the egocentric to the legacy experience, the far richer the changes and more lasting the love.