What will you leave behind?

Monday, June 14th, 2004
A hundred years from now, when people stumble across the archaic things that we once called blogs, what will matter the most? Will future generations really care which model PDA you wore on your belt, what kind of car you drove, or how many hours you put in each day at the office?

After you are gone, would someone who knew you well be able to say that during your lifetime you accomplished the things that were truly most important to you? How would they know?

Chances are that your children's children and perhaps even their children will know of you. Verbal family tradition, a personal journal, and even your blog, (if you had one), as an active journal of history, will help paint a more vivid picture of your life than perhaps you currently have of your grandparents. But, what will these say about you?  What kind of legacy will you leave behind? What will your children be like?

A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had, nor what my clothes were like. But  the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child. - Dr. Forest E. Witcraft

If you have spent any time perusing the archives of this site or my family web site, you know that beyond my work, or my current hobbies, such as robotics, or CNC, my family -- my wife and my children -- mean the world to me. Other than the spiritual element of life, it is my family that I live for. The primary reason that Kathy and I have chosen to home educate our children is more than just to be able to provide our children with a sound education: we want to provide them with a heritage, rich in the knowledge, skills, values, and faith that we consider most important for a successful life.

Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.  -- Proverbs 22:6

David Allen challenges us to focus on the "Successful Outcome." Stephen Covey tells us to "Begin with the end in mind." Whatever you call your process of long-term contemplation, I believe that you cannot truly be "on-purpose" in your daily life without a clearly defined objective and a strategy to get there.  Without a road map (or compass), pointing me to my destination, how could I possibly hope to know how to evaluate the opportunities or tempting situations along the way? I could accept that CTO offer, I could, move to ...,  I could pursue [fill in the blanks].

Many years ago, Kathy and I decided to sit down and map out the mission, vision, and purpose for our marriage and our family. Knowing that life can seem like a series of course corrections, we wanted to make sure that at least we were both heading for the same destination and that we were clear on how we expected to reach it. Using our 30th wedding anniversary as an initial milestone, we prayerfully wrote out our family mission statement; a picture of what we desired our family to be like 21 years into the future.

The legacy that Kathy and I hope to leave behind is our family mission -- not on paper, as I will share it, but a living testimony in the lives of our children. The true measure of our success as a family, will be in whether they choose to pass on this legacy in the lives of their children and if their children in turn, choose to do the same.

With a clear picture of our successful outcome in mind, we worked backward to the present and translated our family vision into measurable outcomes in specific areas of our life, and we committed to work towards each of these. From this family mission statement, I have developed my personal and business vision. When faced with difficult decisions, I have found great clarity in reviewing these.  I wish I had had the maturity to have done something like this when I was much younger.

Having a clear sense of direction has given Kathy and me a clarity and unity in decision-making that we would not otherwise have had. It has influenced our decisions about everything -- where we live, our career choices, (even including which clients to serve),  and how we play.  We review it aloud regularly, and we now include our children in the process.

How will we do living out our family mission statement? Certainly better than we would do without one. Check back on this site in 15 or 20 years.


P.S. I would like to encourage you to develop your own family mission statement and to reflect upon it regularly. It will change your life. If you would like to see ours, you are welcome to view it here or on our family web site.

Discussion/Comments (4):

May 29th blog

Just getting around to commenting on your May 29th dissertation, but it's almost time to get around to something else, so I'll speak my piece when I can get around to it..

Posted at 06/14/2004 17:43:28 by jay

Family Time Capsule

Eric: I serendipitously came across your site and your topic "What will you leave behind", and discovered an immediate affinity. I have addressed this same question in a way that may have some application to your own mission. See: www.timeinacapsule.com. Good wishes for your your family and your message.

Alan Bixby

Posted at 06/14/2004 21:19:03 by Alan Bixby

re: Family Time Capsule

Alan, that is really neat! In some ways, I have looked at the Internet as a form of caching, too. I figure that someday, future generations may be curious about who their ancestors were and might search the internet. If they do, they will find a wealth of information.

I've also collected materials for a time capsule, but it never occurred to me to bury it somewhere.

Thanks for the inspiration, and best of success to you and Nancy.

Eric Mack

Posted at 06/14/2004 21:38:31 by Eric Mack

What will you leave behind?

Your quote about "100 years from now..." written by Dr. Forest E. Witcraft has been altered substantially from what he actually wrote. It is the last line of an essay he wrote which was published in Scouting magazine in 1950. Here is the complete essay. Note the last line for his actual words.

Within My Power, by Dr. Forest E. Witcraft

I am not a Very Important Man, as importance is commonly rated. I do not have great wealth, control a big business, or occupy a position of great honor or authority.

Yet I may someday mold destiny. For it is within my power to become the most important man in the world in the life of a boy. And every boy is a potential atom bomb in human history.

A humble citizen like myself might have been the Scoutmaster of a Troop in which an undersized unhappy Austrian lad by the name of Adolph might have found a joyous boyhood, full of the ideals of brotherhood, goodwill, and kindness. And the world would have been different.

A humble citizen like myself might have been the organizer of a Scout Troop in which a Russian boy called Joe might have learned the lessons of democratic cooperation.

These men would never have known that they had averted world tragedy, yet actually they would have been among the most important men who ever lived.

All about me are boys. They are the makers of history, the builders of tomorrow. If I can have some part in guiding them up the trails of Scouting, on to the high road of noble character and constructive citizenship, I may prove to be the most important man in their lives, the most important man in my community.

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a boy.

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Posted at 06/15/2005 12:13:19 by frank

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